Contribution on Sign Language Debate

by Hon Mrs NJ Nkwanyana MPL

07 September 2017, KZN Legislature

Somlomo ohloniphekile!

Namhlanje sidingida udaba olukhulu lwendlela yokuxhumana ngenkulumo nalesisigaba somphakathi esiphila nokukhubazeka kokungezwa ezindlebeni nokuyinkinga ebacindezela kakhulu kulelizwe lethu esithi likhululekile. Inkinga yabo inkulu kakhulu ngoba lesigaba somphakathi uma siyofuna usizo lwezempilo ezibhedlela asikwazi ukuxhumana nabasebenzi bezempilo ngoba abekho abasebenzi abaqeqeshelwe ukuxhumana nabo ngendlela efanele.

Deaf patients are too often unable to communicate with doctors or hospital staff because of a lack of translation services which can be daunting and frightening, when dealing with medical care and death situations. Government especially the Department of Health must employ sign language interpreters in hospitals. Communication is very critical for medical personnel to understand what the patient’s aliment is and be able to make a correct diagnosis and prescribe appropriate medication. It is also vital that deaf patients understand how the treatment is to be taken by them, therefore medical personnel must have a knowledge of sign language.

Somlomo

Sezwake nokho uDinangwe mhla ethi kukhona abasebenzi abangashumi amabili ezifundeni ezinhlanu asebeqeqeshelwe ukufunda ulimi lwe-Sign Language phecelezi ukusebenzisa izandla nezimpawu ngenhloso yokudlulisa umyalezo walokho okusuke kukhulunywa kodwa-ke siyafuna ukwazi ukuthi bangaki abanye asebeqeqeshiwe kulomkhakha kanye nokuthi labo asebaqeqeshwa batshalwe kuziphi izibhedlela na? Bangaki odokotela asebeqeqeshiwe kuloluhlelo?

When you are in hospitalised and in pain, understanding a doctor’s diagnosis or nurse’s instruction is hard enough. But when you are deaf, it can feel like being shut out.

It is traumatic enough being rushed to hospital in an emergency, but what if you couldn’t understand the doctors who are talking to you about what was wrong – and you woke up after an operation still not knowing the full story?.

Some medical providers have no idea how frustrating and dehumanising it is for deaf and hard of hearing patients when they are forced to, for example, write back and forth about their sickness, lip-read the doctor who is treating them or be told about their diagnosis by a family member. Clear communication in healthcare settings is critical to avoid misdiagnosis and improper or delayed medical treatment.

Ukungabikhona kotolika ezibhedlela abasiza abaphila nokukhubazeka ngokungezwa ezindlebeni kumele kube into esukunyelwa phezulu ngoba ngaphandle kwlaokhu labantu kuhlukunyezwa amalungelo abo ektheni bathole usizo lwezempilo ngendlela efanele nokuyilunglelo labo elikuMthetho-Sisekelo.

Sometimes a family member of friend may not know how to explain medical terminology and make sure the right questions get asked. It is difficult for people to understand how dehumanising it is to have people moving around you poking and prodding without communicating with you. Providing a safe and high-quality experience for our patients is always our priority. A critical element in doing so is ensuring clear communication with a patient and his or her family members about the patient’s care.

As the IFP we concur with the Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee that Sign language must become South Africa’s 12th official language. The committee is recommending that section 6 (1) and (5) (a) be amended to include South African Sign Language (SASL) as an official language.

The IFP believes teaching SASL from school level will also regulate and limit challenges of incorrect sign language interpreters, such as fake sign language interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie who was followed by a hoard of controversy in December 2013 after he acted as a sign language interpreter at the memorial service of Former President Nelson Mandela. Lokhu kusiza ekutheni kuphele ukusebenzisa otolika abangaqeqeshiwe ngendlela efanele. Ngakho sithi siyiNkatha alusheshiswe uhlelo lokuthi kwenziwe i-Sign Language ulimi lweshumi nambili olusemthethweni.

Again, we concur with the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) that the Department of Education should ensure that the provision of SASL becomes a success and contributes immensely to all citizens and respects those living with deaf incapacity.

All state institutions like schools, hospitals and government departments would need to have personnel who know Sign Language and can communicate in it. Because it would become a constitutional right, the private sector would also have to fall in line.

It would mean the private sector itself – say banks for example – would have to take steps so members of the public interact using Sign Language.

Somlomo,

Uma ngisekulo loludaba iQembu iNkatha iyacela ukuthi nosonhlalakahle nabo kumele bafunde i-Sign Language njengoba besebenza nomphakathi ohlukahlukene kubalwa nabo abaphila nokukhubazeka. Kuyadabukisa ukuthi umuntu ongezwa ezindlebeni angeke akwazi ukubhalisa impesheni uma kungekho umuntu ozomphelezela ngenhloso yokuthi abe umkhulumeli wakhe kosonhlalakahle. Social workers play an integral party in our society therefore it is important that they are trained in Sign Language.

In 2016 during the State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma said I quote “Government will continue to advance and improve the lives of people with disabilities over the next five years.

We will work with the Disability sector to identify key areas in which we should fulfil South Africa’s role as signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol. Another key intervention this term will be to finalise the National Disability Rights Policy which includes the National Disability Rights Framework. The Policy and the Framework will guide Government action to promote a more inclusive society and to promote the involvement of people with disabilities in decision-making processes,” Lokhu okushiwo uMengameli weZwe akufanele nje kugcine kuyinto ekhulunywayo bese kuphelela lapho kodwa kumele kubonakale ngezenzo ukuthi amalungelo abantu abaphila nokukhubazeka ayabhekelelwa. Akumele uhulumeni akhe inqaba emoyeni ebe azi kahle kamhlophe ukuthi usenga ezimithiyo.

We further challenge the Department of Social Development to work hard with all Chapter 9 institutions and organisations representing Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons, for the full implementation of Articles 9 and 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as it pertains giving equal access to communication and information to Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons through the recognition of sign language and availability of appropriate technology.

In conclusion we are all aware that September is recognised as Deaf Awareness Month. Deaf Awareness Month is commemorated in South Africa from 1 to 30 September. This calls for action to address all challenges facing deaf people. Government must reaffirm its commitment in the prioritisation of deaf people.

I thank you.

Contact: 078 302 3991