South Africa’s Recognition of Sign Language: A Milestone for Inclusivity and Hope


President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the keynote address at the official Human Rights Day commemoration, on 21 March 2023 held at De Aar stadium, in the Northern Cape. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

South Africa’s recent recognition of sign language as an official language is seen as a significant milestone by the deaf community, offering new opportunities and hope. This move, signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa, marks the 12th official language of the country, aiming to protect the rights of the deaf and promote inclusivity.

Sign language has become South Africa’s 12th official language, after President Cyril Ramaphosa approved the Sign Language Bill into law on July 20

Deaf individuals interviewed view this recognition as a breakthrough, enabling better communication in various aspects of life, from police stations to public transportation. While there is still progress to be made, with limited accessible educational institutions, the official recognition signals a positive change.

Currently, only a few countries globally recognize sign language officially, including Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe in Africa. This recognition opens doors for deaf individuals to pursue their dreams and aspirations with improved access to education and communication.

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