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If a draft amendment to South Africa’s Constitution is passed, South African Sign Language might just become the country’s 12th official language.

This amendment, currently in its official draft stage, will be the 18th made to the current Constitution.

The draft amendment is currently open for public comment until the end of August and will give South African Sign Language the same official-language status similar to isiZulu, Afrikaans, English, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, isiNdebele and isiXhosa.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola published the draft amendment on Tuesday and said making Sign Language one of the country’s official languages “will result in the cultural acceptance of sign language and the deaf culture”.

He added that it would be “a step towards realising persons with hearing disabilities’ rights to equal enjoyment of rights and human dignity” and it would “promote inclusion, substantive equality and prevent or eliminate unfair discrimination on the ground of disability”.

News24 reports that elevating Sign Language to an official language has been debated for years, and in 2018 it was recognised as a home language for educational purposes.

Image credit: Good Things Guy

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