Sign language becomes South Africa’s 12th official language

Sign language becomes South Africa’s 12th official language

Parliament has passed a law that will make sign language the 12th official language in South Africa.

The Bill has been sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign it into law.

From 1994 South Africa has had 11 official languages.

But last year the Department of Justice and Correctional Services tabled the sign language bill for approval by members of the national legislature.

“Primarily, the amendment seeks to advance the cultural acceptance of SASL (South African Sign Language), the deaf culture; ensure the realisation of the rights of persons who are deaf and hard of hearing to equal protection and benefit of the law and human dignity; and to promote inclusive and substantive equality and prevent or eliminate unfair discrimination on the ground of disability, as guaranteed by section 9 of the Constitution,” said parliament on Wednesday.

“Adoption of the Bill could impact the scope and purpose of the reference to sign language in such legislation. Relevant departments administering those and related legislation should take note of this constitutional amendment recognising SASL as an official language in terms of section 6 of the Constitution and consider whether the adoption of the Bill may require consequential amendment to associated legislation for purposes of clarifying the status of SASL as expressed in the Constitution,” said parliament.

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