Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Digitale woordeboek vir gebaretaal

The National Institute for the Deaf believes
that the hearing impaired and those who want to learn sign language can benefit from a
digital dictionary, currently being developed. It will be the first of its kind. The dictionary will also greatly emphasize
the different dialects in sign language. “We will absorb all those different
dialects in our dictionary and then we will look at which of
these signs are the most used across all the different provinces. That will be the one that appears, but all the others that are used in different
provinces will also be available in the dictionary so that people can use it for research purposes.” In South Africa, there are 42 schools for the deaf. Each of the schools has its own
dialect in the different provinces. Researchers at the NID say the dictionary will
not only be available on computers but also on mobile phones. “A place like a university, or a college, or a school or perhaps
government departments A dictionary where we take the different signs there’s no right or wrong, it’s just what is
being used and the most used one is on top. Such a university might want to know which schools
are in Natal and what signs do they use. They can then look on the Internet and identify
which signs are used and at colleges too. Or an interpreter, for example, will then be able to see ‘I must interpret for someone who was at that school.’ Then they can better prepare themselves.” Former President FW de Klerk has contributed more than
R500 000 for the development of the digital dictionary. De Klerk says the interpreter scandal during Madiba’s
funeral stressed the need for such an application. “I believe there is a great need for standardization of
sign language which is so important for the Deaf. I came to realise this need during the fiasco in the stadium in Johannesburg with former President Mandela’s funeral where the man who was supposed to do
the sign language caused a total fiasco.” The digital dictionary is expected to be tested at
various schools for the deaf during October this year.

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