Sign language could become SA’s 12th official language

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola submitted the Constitution’s 18th Amendment Bill to Parliament after it was published in the government gazette last year for public input.

FILE: The public has one month to make written submissions to Parliament on making sign language SA’s 12th official language. Picture: © andreypopov/123rf.com

CAPE TOWN – The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is looking to amend the Constitution to make sign language the 12th official language of the country.

READ: South African sign language approved as SA’s 12th official language

Minister Ronald Lamola submitted the Constitution’s 18th Amendment Bill to Parliament after it was published in the government gazette last year for public input.

He says the amendment bill aims to advance the cultural acceptance of South African sign language and deaf culture.

The constitution’s 18th amendment bill seeks to give people who are deaf or hard of hearing, human dignity and equal protection and benefit of the law.

READ: Expanding inclusivity: why making SASL an official language matters

In terms of Section 6 of the Constitution, there are eleven official languages ​​in South Africa: Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, Isindebele, Isixhosa, and Isizulu.

The department said people with hearing disabilities continued to experience high levels of marginalization and exclusion.

These included a lack of understanding of deaf culture, a lack of sign language proficiency, and a shortage of professional sign language interpreters.

It was hoped that by including sign language as an official language, it would promote inclusivity and equality, and prevent discrimination on the grounds of disability.

The public has exactly one month from Wednesday to make written submissions to Parliament on the proposed amendment.

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