Talk Sign project aims to bridge divide with the deaf

Durban School for the Hearing Impaired, accommodates children with hearing impairments, making their days of learning understandable and most importantly enjoyable.

“IT is a human right of every person who is deaf to be able to communicate – to understand others and to be understood,” according to the president of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society, Justice Zak Yacoob.

Durban School for the Hearing Impaired, situated on Adams Road in Toti, accommodates children with hearing impairments from age four upwards, making their days of learning understandable and most importantly enjoyable.

Many hearing-impaired people feel that one of their biggest difficulties is being treated by the hearing world as though they’re handicapped, people to be pitied or changed.

Yolanda Mbonsweni, Zinhle Ndlovu, Prema Padayachee, Celona Premchund, Azania Mokoena and Kyle Chetty (front) show “I love you” in Sign.

“We need the people of the community to realise these pupils are capable of so many more job positions than they’re considered for,” said principal, K Maharaj. A few popular companies have already set the example by training and employing those who are hard of hearing. In many ways, deafness is hardest on children. Language is learned from hearing it spoken by parents and peers. Deaf children struggle with communicating far longer than others, as they must be taught sign language and the ability to read lips.

The school’s grades range from grade 00 to nine. While many pupils have previously matriculated, over the past few years pupils have preferred to make use of the ‘skills and vocational classes,’ where skills such as wood and metal work or assistant chef training are cultured. Most young children go through ‘stranger anxiety’ phases. There is great fear experienced by a deaf toddler when they are approached by an admiring stranger. The stranger may have friendly intentions but it’s difficult for a deaf child to understand this by sight alone.

“We need to make sign language South Africa’s 12th official language, not only for those who are deaf but for everyone’s benefit,” said Yacoob.

The school not only educates hard of hearing children, but also intellectually disabled(ID) pupils and those with Autism. The school has separate junior and senior campuses, a total enrolment of 250 pupils. Children are taught by the teacher with both oral and sign language. Darren Rajbal, a professional dancer and winner of SA’s Got Talent is completely deaf. He is amazed how people presume because someone is deaf, they must be lacking in intelligence.

“We are just as capable as everyone else, we simply speak a different language,’’ explains Darren.

“I wish more people would take the time to learn the language which the deaf community speaks, it would help us to feel less isolated and lonely.”

WATCH: South Coast Sun journalist Holly Konig, with learner Kyle Chetty from Durban School for Hearing Inpaired showing us how to sign some common phrases

Darren has been fortunate enough to travel overseas with this dancing and believes that SA is behind when it comes to the opportunities available for those who are deaf. Talk Sign Day on Friday, 10 March entails wearing a sticker to raise awareness about those living with a hearing impairment.

Schools and corporates are encouraged to buy Talk Sign stickers for R10 each and wear them on the day.

All funds raised will be used to help educate people who are deaf and help them find employment.

To place an order for stickers to sell at school, work or to set up a presentation, contact Alice Leah on 082-577-2110 or e-mail or visit for more information. Principal, K Maharaj asks the community to assist in any way possible, as the school is short of both classrooms and vans for the transportation of pupils to and from school.

Contact the school on 031-903-7253 or email for more information.

Durban School for the Hearing Impaired, accommodates children with hearing impairments, making their days of learning understandable and most importantly enjoyable.

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Holly Konig

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