Constructing and rolling out the new South African Sign Language (SASL) curriculum – Reflexive critique

Ruth Zilla Morgan, Meryl Glaser, Lucas Magongwa


South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world protecting the linguistic and cultural rights of Deaf people. However, there is a huge gap between policies and reality in schools for Deaf learners in South Africa. In this paper we critically unpack and reflexively explore the linguistic and cultural issues that emerged during the process of creating and implementing the new South African Sign Language (SASL) curriculum. This curriculum was produced as a result of a landmark court case. We use an ethnographic framework based on our own reflections, discussions with Deaf people, notes from meetings, and discussions with the other team members. Why and how did the process that started off with so much energy, excitement and goodwill break down? We argue that a key reason for this breakdown is inadequate linguistic knowledge and cultural sensitivity in relation to SASL and Deaf cultural identity. The paper concludes with an outline of lessons learnt.


SASL CAPS Curriculum; Deaf culture; SASL

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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