IM this article to a friend!

October 12, 2005

Gauteng Police to Use 'Signs' to Listen to the Deaf

From: - Africa - Oct 12, 2005

BuaNews (Tshwane)
October 12, 2005
Posted to the web October 12, 2005

By Richard Mantu

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

Communication has been made easy after police introduced a sign language programme in the province to enable them to "hear" the those whose speech and hearing is impaired.

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, a critical component of communication.

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

"We are talking about services 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 about 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 is set to be completed in February next year.

The Schools Life skills teacher Clause Goddard who has mastered sign language told BuaNews that deaf people were just like any other hearing people and were affected by crime equally.

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

Copyright © 2005 BuaNews. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (