DURBAN – Over 40 000 stickers were distributed for Talk Sign Day as community members were given the chance to show their support on Friday, March 10.
As part of an initiative to raise funds the Talk Sign sticker campaign was a success this year. “Over 40 000 stickers were distributed as part of the campaign,” said the Director of KZN Blind and Deaf Society, Shamila Surjoo. The stickers were sold for R10 and all proceeds went toward job creation in the deaf community. “Our job placement officer helps to find work within the open labour market,” said Surjoo. The TalkSign campaign has helped over 100 hearing impaired community members since it was launched in 2014 by the KZN Blind and Deaf Society.
In addition to sourcing employment opportunities, the campaign runs programs to equip the deaf community with entrepreneurial skills. “We employ several community members in our bead work program, so that they are earning money while they learn entrepreneurial skills,” said Surjoo. Another initiative, the assembly and packaging program provides out sourced work opportunities with independent companies. “Assembly work opportunities are currently on offer with a plumbing manufacturer,” said Surjoo.
The campaign also serves to create awareness by giving presentations at schools, hospitals, corporate agencies and government institutions. “I’ve noticed that people often fear the unknown and they would rather ignore it than do the wrong thing,” said Talk Sign Ambassador, Riona Jagathpal, “being able to recognize our differences is key.” The aim is to bridge the gap between the hearing community and the deaf community by promoting sign language.
“We hope to see South African Sign Language listed as the 12th official language,” said Surjoo. With a simple greeting in sign language, the hearing community can reach out to the deaf community. ” It makes such a difference,” said Surjoo. By normalizing sign language, the initiative hopes to help hearing impaired communities gain independence. ” As a mother of 3, I have noticed that my youngest (3) is learning sign language with ease at foundation phase,” said Jagathpal.
By creating awareness in the hearing community, Talk Sign is bridging the gap with a worthy cause.