SA Journal of Education, Vol 40, No 2 (2020)

The effect of limited sign language as barrier to teaching and learning among Deaf learners in South Africa

Winnie Poelane Ngobeni, Joseph Ramathibela Maimane, Mmushetji Petrus Rankhumise


In the study reported on here we investigated the effects of sign language barriers among Deaf learners in special schools for the Deaf and Blind in the Motheo District in the Free State province of South Africa. Semi-structured focus group interviews were held with 7 teachers (2 males and 5 females) and 10 Grade 8 learners (6 males and 4 females) who used sign language as their first language. We employed a qualitative research approach and data were collected, themes identified, and learners were observed in their natural classroom environment. Open-ended questions were used when interviewing the teachers and learners of the selected school. South African Sign Language (SASL) is used as language of learning and teaching in schools for the Deaf. A qualified sign language interpreter translated the data. The results of the study show a lack of in-service training in SASL for teachers. It was found that learners acquired language at school rather than in the home environment, and a lack of physical resources were responsible for the learners’ poor performance. We recommend that universities offer SASL as common subject – especially for education students.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Winnie Poelane Ngobeni -
Joseph Ramathibela Maimane -
Mmushetji Petrus Rankhumise -

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