Also, a big thank you to the Barker Insurance for donating three standing fans and Easter Eggs to the school! The Matriculants are also in desperate need of Matric Jackets and the Barkers also donated toward these.
Our trip to St Vincent's School for The Deaf, was enlightening to say the least. Tammy, teaches sign language as a first language at the school, and was a wonderful host allowing us to peek into the lives of these beautiful children and their care givers. We learned that being deaf can come with considerable challenges and we would not be able to comprehend what they go through. Despite the physical disability however, what we witnessed were curious, lively, happy, charismatic children, who seem to face life with this beautiful light and hope, which is truly inspiring!
We received an overwhelming amount of interesting information...
- Whilst certain words are universal, sign language differs from country to country, as culturally, different words may have different meanings. 'I love you’ in sign language.
- Sadly some of the parents don’t know how to speak sign language, which creates a language barrier between child and parent. The teachers normally help create understanding between parent and child.
- Teaching the English language is extremely challenging, as sign language doesn’t use conjunctions. For example one hand signal will mean 'the car is driving slowly up the hill' but to write the full sentence down is a learning curve.
- They are working on creating more signed versions of syllabus i.e. they are working on creating a signed version of Romeo and Juliet.
- They have a training centre at the school for students who have completed high school. This education hub offers courses such as fashion design and carpentry, and even beauty courses. The goodies that the students make are sold in a shop on the school property. The centre also ensures students find a job when they leave the school.
- South Africa sadly doesn’t cater very much for the deaf community, whilst the USA is much more forward thinking and innovative with their support for the deaf community. Many deaf students are keen to go on to the USA to study further, although South Africa is slowly improving in this regard.
- St Vincent is a government funded school but this isn't near enough and so the school relies heavily on fundraising and private funding.
- A large portion of the students are fed at the school as their families cannot afford to feed them. There is a large kitchen on the school grounds where food is prepped and a small eating area for the students.
- St Vincent's School For The Deaf used to have a hostel but a lot of parents couldn’t pay fees so they closed this.
- They are busy building a medical suite within the school grounds. This is to assist the deaf community who are often misdiagnosed, as communication between doctor and patient is complex and often gets confused.
- Some of the students are born with a disease that will eventually leave them blind. A lot of them aren’t even aware they have this. There is an in-house school psychologist which will assist if this is the case.
Some random but equally interesting facts:
- The deaf community are known to be 'straight talking' and get straight to the point. This could be misinterpreted as tactless but it is simply because they haven't been socialised in the same way as the hearing through exposure to media such as radio and TV. Their social interactions are quite different and more straightforward to what the hearing might be used to.
- Many of the deaf community love to dance and have great rhythm. They are used to using their body to communicate and they rely on the vibrations from the music.
- Quite a few of deaf community want to get into DJ'ing! The rely on vibrations and special foot pads to produce the music.
- A deaf person will often assign a name to a person from a physical attribute they have. This name will stick forever. For example, a smile, tall or short, curly hair or dimples etc.
- One of the students asked the teacher If she could describe the sound a flower makes when its growing - such an interesting perspective!
- The school will be doing a play next year and a few of us have been invited, this should be so lovely to experience!
There is a lovely coffee shop where you can purchase a cup of coffee, hot chocolate and you order the drink using sign language thanks to the helpful display. Those that are in the area should pop in and grab a cuppa – all are welcome. You will learn how to order in sign language ’Coffee’