“THE ABILITY OF LISTENING WITHOUT HEARING”
By: Zamalanda Mahlaba
Signs of happiness filled the air Wednesday,when children of the VN Naik School for the deaf celebrated the Deaf Awareness Week in an intellectual way.
The Deaf Awareness Week has now been turned into a whole month due to the growing number of babies that are being born with an impaired hearing and because of the lack of knowledge to those who live and come across deaf people.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Audiology students put together an event that allowed the VN Naik deaf students to participate in a sporting event with the Roseland Primary School learners.
This event has been the second that has been hosted by the UKZN’s 4th year Audiology students.
Dr Ansuya Ram who is the Deputy Principal at the VN Naik School for the deaf, stretched out her welcoming words to their neighbouring school as well as other guests that attended the event.
“The deaf awareness use to be a week but now has recently been changed into a month up until the last Sunday of September because people need that time to get to know those who are deaf and understand them that they are just as normal as people who can hear.” Dr Ram said.
Deaf people are normally labelled by their communities as being “disabled” and not being able to do normal things that people with perfect hearing can do.
“Deaf people are normal the only difference is that they communicate using sign language and you communicate with a spoken language,” Dr Ram said that while signing it.
The Deaf Awareness Month which started as “the Deaf Awareness Week” began 69 years ago and has managed to educate people about those who have an impaired hearing .And with the Audiology students from UKZN, students have been ,in the past two years, interacting with different individuals and educating them about the differences.
“Knowing how to communicate with a deaf person is awesome, but people don’t understand deaf people and in that way they come up with different meanings for the word “deaf” which in many cases its classifying people as “disabled”,” explained”, Jessica, A 4th year student from UKZN.
The UKZN students have made every day a special day at the VN Naik School for the deaf, by coming through and having clinics and therapy sessions with the students and staff. In celebration and in the awareness of the deaf, these students will be uploading a video on YouTube that will allow people to understand deaf people and the way in which they communicate.
The room was filled with tinny noises when the VN Naik learners were given a chance to teach the other students alphabets in sign language. They were later put into groups of five and they had a sport filled moment with games that required the other “able” students to “listen without hearing’ and that was a lesson on its own.
The Audiology lecturer, Zandile Blose, sees a lot of change within the people that they have worked with when it comes to one’s hearing and understanding of the language.
“Last year it was targeted at the varsity students and this year we actually focus on a school that caters for such. The main reason for this awareness is to help people interact with the deaf and understand them.” Said Blose.
Nonkululeko Tsotetsi who is one of the deaf students from VN Naik signed out with a whole lot of energy saying, “Being deaf makes me feel special! And you have to be ok with it because I feel ok! People should know that we are something great.”
According to Stats SA, 17 babies are born deaf every day in South Africa. Despite such high statistics, there’s still an overwhelming number of South Africans who cannot sign. One can only hope this language is given the platform it deserves in the cirriculum, like other languages.