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August 25, 2005

Deaf Entrepreneur Makes People "Listen"

From:, Africa - Aug 25, 2005

BuaNews (Tshwane)
August 25, 2005

By Kulani Mavunda

Andile Magagula has made it his mission to teach people to use sign language so they can communicate with the deaf.

He presented a workshop at the Gert Sibande Further Education and Training (FET) College in Standerton, Mpumalanga, last week where he taught basic sign language.

While he signed, sign language interpreters Olga Sithole and Mirriam Mokoena "spoke" for him.

"Lecturers, administration clerks and student support officers attended the workshop so that they could learn to communicate with deaf people," said college spokesperson Jabu Mhlabane.

She said the college had one deaf student who has had to learn by lip reading and communicating with peers and lecturers through writing.

Thirty-year-old Magagula's project is called Khuluma (Speak) South African Sign Language.

He and Sithole started the project in February this year in partnership with the Deaf Federation Of Mpumalanga.

The Gert Sibande College helped register the project as a company and gave them their first job last week by asking them to hold the workshop.

"There is great demand for the project," said Mhlabane. "Various departments are enquiring about Khuluma as a service provider."

The Pan South African Language Board also gave Magagula a scholarship to attend a three-week training course for South African sign language instructors.

The course was held at Wits University last year.

Magagula, who was born deaf, says the project is making a difference. "It is a unique skill for lecturers to have," he signed, while Sithole interpreted.

Disabled people generally struggle to access information about services to help them, and information about their rights.

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