25 September 2013 Volume :1 Issue :3

UKZN Students Help Celebrate Deaf Culture

UKZN Students Help Celebrate Deaf Culture
Pupils from the V N Naik School for the Deaf and Roselands Primary School celebrate Deaf Awareness Month with UKZN Audiology students.

Fourth-year Audiology students marked Deaf Awareness Month with a fun day at V N Naik School for the Deaf in Durban.

‘The purpose of the fun day was to commemorate Deaf Awareness Month by celebrating deaf culture, creating unity between the hearing and deaf children and showing them that the only difference is their hearing ability,’ said student, Ms Katriona Kroone. 

Grade six and seven learners from V N Naik and Roselands Primary School were divided into teams which included both deaf and hearing pupils. Various relay events were held including an egg-and-spoon race, bean-bag race, a relay and a sack race. The teachers also took part in a relay of their own and the day concluded with volleyball and netball matches.

‘At first, getting the children to unite and interact was a challenge. Everyone was a bit nervous to step out of their comfort zones, to not only make new friends but to interact with people who use a different language to them,’ said Kroone.

Audiology students at UKZN learn South African Sign Language in their third-year to equip them to work with deaf patients, learners and the deaf community.

‘They taught the learners from Roselands some basic signs such as “hello” and the alphabet which broke the ice. As soon as the races began each team was united - excitement, joy and team spirit don't need interpreters,’ said Kroone.

‘The highlights were seeing the learners from both schools putting their hearing differences aside and having fun together, cheering each other on and celebrating victories after each race. The teachers’ race was definitely another highlight - the room erupted with laughter as the learners watched their teachers get competitive and give their all in their race!’

Here are a few tips to communicate with someone who is deaf:

•  Get their attention with a small wave or tap on the shoulder before trying to communicate
•  Stand in a well-lit area so lips, facial expressions and gestures can be seen. Many people who are deaf are able to lip read or can make sense of gestures, even if they aren’t the official South African sign language signs
•  Speak at a normal pace and don’t shout
•  Write a message on a piece of paper if necessary
•  Be patient.

As part of the Audiology students’ Deaf Awareness campaign they created a hashtag on Twitter which is being used around the country to raise awareness, #DeafAwareness2013

The Audiology students invite everyone on Twitter to tweet the following to raise Deaf awareness:

•  17 babies are born with hearing loss every day in South Africa.
•  Many children in South Africa with hearing loss are being diagnosed late and miss out on important years of language acquisition.
•  If your child has not started using his first word by one year and doesn’t get startled by loud noises, you should see an audiologist.
•  Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through primary prevention. Awareness is key! (World Health Organization). 
•  When speaking to someone with hearing loss, face them, speak clearly and repeat info that is missed. 
•  If you feel that you, your child or a family member has hearing loss, visit an audiologist for a hearing assessment.

- Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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