Government committed to inclusive society

Friday, June 29, 2018

Government is committed to building an inclusive society which caters to the needs of the deaf community, says Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

“Throughout this month [Youth Month] our focus has been on working with the deaf community, targeting young people, exposing our own entities to their own experiences around cyber bullying and the absence of information,” Mokonyane said.

On Friday, the Minister interacted with young people who are deaf at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto and went on a tour of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) offices. She also visited former President Nelson Mandela’s former residence.

This interaction formed part of a two-day session with the Deaf Youth and Deaf Federation of South Africa. The session was aimed at providing South Africa’s deaf community an opportunity to engage with the department and its entities to highlight issues that affect them.

“Young people are diverse and they have their own rights and needs. We have a responsibility as a nation to give them the necessary support,” Mokonyane said.

The Minister said the public broadcaster must also cater for the deaf community.

“It must not be a favour from the public broadcaster to see simultaneous translation, it must be done because they [the deaf community] have their constitutional rights. We need simultaneous translation for deaf people,” she said.

Deaf SA Director Peter Druchen described the engagements of the organisation has had with government as historic.

The organisation represents 1.5 million deaf and hard hearing people as well as 500 000 people who are using the South African sign language.

“We are very happy that government has recognised us and that the barriers of receiving information [by the deaf community] can be broken. I hope that through this partnership we can learn from each other to make sure that the human rights of deaf people are addressed,” Druchen said.

He said the organisation wants the partnership that it has established with government to grow within South Africa and the neighbouring countries.

“This has been a very good opportunity for the youth of South Africa,” Druchen said.

Some of the challenges that are faced by the deaf community include unemployment, the language barrier, education and access to information.

“We need to work with government to ensure that we can get deaf people employment and access to information. We must not ignore the challenges that are faced by the deaf community because they need to be empowered,” he said. –