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eThekwini’s sign of respect to deaf citizens

Written by Hlengiwe Ngobese

People who are hearing impaired will no longer feel like foreigners in their own city, thanks to a drive to teach sign language.

eThekwini municipality councillors who successfully completed a sign language course.The eThekwini Municipality ward councillors will be able to communicate with deaf people living in their ward thanks to training provided by the council.

Twenty councillors received training as part of breaking down communication barriers and ensuring that people living with disabilities have a voice in the city.

Belinda Mhlongo, the deputy head in the speaker’s office, said the aim is to train all councillors in the municipality.

“People with special needs are also ratepayers, therefore it is important that they get the same services, just like everyone else. However, we can’t reach out to them if we don’t know how to communicate with them.”

She added that all councillors should be able to communicate with deaf residents and said that the mainstreaming of disability remains a huge challenge. People with disabilities are often marginalised when it comes to finding jobs and accessing services, she said.

Speaking after receiving her certificate of competence, Councillor Busi Ndlovu said she will now be able to communicate with deaf eThekwini residents.

“The training has boosted my confidence in sign language. I have two neighbours who are deaf and previously I battled to engage with them. I would write what I wanted to say on a piece of paper, but now I can use sign language to communicate.”