Realizing the lack of service providers in the field for persons who are deaf or hearing impaired using a spoken language, we have positioned ourselves to provide training and support for this marginalized group. Our work aligns with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related South African legislation.
Hearing loss is a disability. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines persons with disabilities as those who have long-term sensory impairments which in interaction with barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
What is an impairment?
The Code of Good Practice on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities, states that three criteria must all be met if a person is to be covered under South African legislation as a person with a disability. The person must have an impairment, which may be physical, mental or a combination thereof. A physical impairment means a partial or total loss of a bodily function or part of the body. It includes sensory impairments such as being deaf, hearing impaired or visually impaired. Secondly the impairment must also be long-term or recurring and thirdly the impairment must be substantially limiting.
Hearing impaired, deaf or Deaf?
The main factor that distinguishes persons with hearing loss from each other is the language they prefer and community they associate with.
Persons who are deaf or hearing impaired are persons who usually use a spoken language. Many times persons who lose their hearing at a later stage in life, associate with this group. This group relates to people in the hearing community and accepts the terms of impairment and disability (Technical Assistance Guidelines, paragraph 5.1.1).
There are also persons who use signed language and see themselves as Deaf. Often persons born deaf associate with this group. These individuals adhere to a specific culture and do not align with the words “impairment” and/or “disability”.
Disability and discrimination
According to the Technical Assistance Guidelines on the Prevention of Unfair Dismissal, Discrimination on the basis of disability means any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, social or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation.
Reasonable accommodation means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments (not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden) where needed to ensure persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others.
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