IM this article to a friend!

October 13, 2005

Cops learn to 'hear' deaf

From: News24 - South Africa - Oct 13, 2005

Richard Mantu

Johannesburg - The deaf community in Gauteng will no longer find it difficult to report acts of crime committed against them.

Communication has been made easier after police introduced a sign language programme in the province to enable them to "hear" those whose speech and hearing is impaired, the government news agency BuaNews reported.

Through the programme - which is set to be rolled out countrywide after police officers show proficiency in sign language - will ensure that policing is extended to members of the deaf community.

The project is an initiative between the Gauteng police and St Vincent School for the deaf. It involves teachers from the school giving lessons to police in sign language.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Perumal Naidoo said police couldn't talk about service delivery without extending services to people with disabilities.


"We are talking about service delivery in the SAPS but we can't be seen to be rendering good service if we can't cater for people in sign language," he said.

There are currently 25 members of Gauteng police being taught sign language and more will be put on the programme.

Constable Zondi Maimela is already learning the ropes.

"It's difficult to sign because it's so different in spoken English or written language. But we are getting there," he said.

The sign language course started in August and will be completed in February.

The school's life skills teacher, Clause Goddard, who has mastered sign language, said deaf people were affected by crime equally.

She said the project was a step in the right direction, and would enable police to communicate effectively with the deaf community.

© 2005 News24