Jobs Fund supports Deaf inclusion in the workforce

With currently little or no financial support for the training and placement of Deaf work seekers, the Jobs Fund is proud to announce its partnership with eDeaf, an organisation that has placed 3000 work seekers over the past 10 years, on its Partnered Solutions for the Deaf in a Hearing world project.

With the R10.4 million grant from the Jobs Fund and a R10.4 million matched funding contribution by eDeaf, the project will develop an NQF training programme for South African Sign Language interpreters, training and placing 20, thus increasing the pool of suitably skilled interpreters in the country. eDeaf will also recruit, screen and place 720 Deaf work seekers in skilled and semi-skilled vacancies in order to reduce the level of dependence on social grants and increase the income of Deaf families.

With an estimated 4 million Deaf and hard of hearing people in South Africa, the reality we face is that it is difficult for most Deaf people to receive the skills training necessary to secure reasonable employment while employers also lack systems that accommodate those with a hearing disability.

A 2011 census, by Statistics South Africa, on persons with disabilities in the country found the main areas of inequality between those with and without disabilities included school attendance, educational attainment, employment levels and income.

While many Deaf schools, rightly insist on teachers possessing a valid teaching qualification to secure employment at a school for the Deaf, there is no standard benchmarking criteria for hearing teachers of the Deaf to be able to communicate in SASL (the primary language of the Deaf community). This communication barrier presents a disadvantage for those learners.

In an effort to raise awareness of the plight of the Deaf and sensitise society with improved ways for communicating with those that have a hearing disability, this project includes the development and improvement of an eDeaf App, and future plans for a video relay service (VRS) offering the Deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired communities the opportunity to communicate via video call technology with a hearing person, in real-time, via an interpreter.

"The Jobs Fund’s 7th Call for Proposals was guided by the concept of inclusive growth. It sought to facilitate the inclusion of previously excluded individuals and/or businesses to participate in the economy. The project plays a transformative role as it focuses on the Deaf community, which has previously been excluded from the workforce. We are confident in eDeaf’s capability to make this a success" says Deputy Director General, Najwah Allie-Edries.

The project has the potential to contribute to systemic change through the increased employment and training of Sign Language interpreters while more employers will also be encouraged to improve their internal processes and systems that will accommodate those that are part of a linguistic minority group.