The Deaf Federation of South Africa initially addressed Parliament in 2007, but 15 years later and South African Sign Language will soon (finally) be the 12th official language!
Johannesburg, South Africa (10 August 2022) – South African Sign Language (SASL) will soon become South Africa’s 12th official language.
This has been a long road that started with Parliament being addressed by the Deaf Federation of South Africa in 2007. In 2017 the Constitutional Review Committee recommended that the constitution be amended to include SASL as one of the official languages.
This year, President Ramaphosa approved the 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill, and on the 20th of July 2022, the Government Gazette issued a notice that calls for public comment on the amendment that will make SASL an official language.
National Institute for the Deaf’s Andries van Niekerk says, “This would mean that services and information that must be available in the official languages will now be available in SASL including the learner license test you have to write.”
SASL as an official language will raise the status of the language.
This will, in turn, foster the understanding that SASL is of comparable status to spoken languages. Deaf people will be able to have access to information wherever legislation requires that it be available in all official languages.
Deafblind SA National Director Philip Dobson says, “We are very happy our language is getting the same recognition as other languages. Many deafblind can only communicate via sign because it’s the only language you can feel and touch and get information from.”