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Media Statement: Parliament Approval of South African Sign Language As the 12th Official Language

Attention: Editors and Reporters

04 May 2023

The South African Human Rights Commission (Commission) welcomes the passing by the National Assembly of the Bill amending section 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The aim of this amendment is to recognise South African Sign Language (SASL) as one of the official languages of the Republic. The Commission views the adoption of the Bill as a step in the right direction to promote human rights and specifically the rights of persons who use sign language.

The Commission believes that this important step poses a significant but necessary challenge to all public bodies and government departments as they seek to expand their ability to service and communicate effectively with all citizens.

The SAHRC likewise will now be able to expend some of its resources to ensure that the Commission is better able to service some of the over 4 million people who use sign language in South Africa.   Further, the Commission is encouraged by the adoption of the Bill by the National Assembly, in that more learners at schools will opt to learn SASL and will become proficient in the language as it takes its rightful place among the other official languages. The Commission is of the view that government should invest in language learning in South Africa as a vital tool for nation building and social harmony.

The Bill now will be tabled at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for consideration, and it is hoped that the NCOP will approve the Bill as it serves to promote the rights of persons living with disabilities and advance the Human Rights program of the country.


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission

Wisani Baloyi – Acting Communications Coordinator Tel: 081 016 8308 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alucia Sekgathume Tel: 082 689 2364 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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