Sign Language was accepted as South Africa’s 12th official language on 19 July. Ilze Aaron, the first deaf student graduating at the Faculty of Education in 2021, is excited about the acceptance of Sign Language.
“To have Sign Language as official 12th language in our country enables me to communicate more freely. I think it will motivate people in society to learn more about the language and that will improve deaf peoples’ lives. On a personal note, I think this milestone will open new doors for me and will give more recognition to the deaf community.”
Already at school Sign Language made a difference for Aaron. She changed from a struggling learner in an ordinary school to a successful learner at the De la Bat School for the Deaf. This school later asked if she was interested in applying for study at Stellenbosch University. She then applied for a BEd qualification at the Faculty of Education. She became the first person in her family to obtain a degree. “My experience at Stellenbosch University made me a better person and I will always remember it because I got the support that inspired me to achieve my dreams.”
Since she graduated in 2021 she has been teaching a Grade 3 class at the Dominican School for the Deaf at Wittebome. Since there is a shortage of teachers who know Sign Language, she had to fill many different roles at the school. She takes on a position in the senior phase in South African Sign Language and Physical Education at the same school for the rest of 2023. “This position is very exciting for me because it expands my experience as a teacher. With the knowledge that Sign Language is accepted as 12th official language, I look forward to making a big difference in the lives of deaf learners and the deaf community.”
She sees it as a great privilege to work with deaf learners and to communicate with them in the language they understand. She is grateful for wonderful colleagues who motivates her to become a better teacher every day. It is very important to her to place each deaf child’s needs first and to handle everyone the same.
Aaron plans to study further in the field of psychology to be able to communicate with deaf learners about their mental health as well. “My mission is to make every deaf learner understand that they are capable of achieving the impossible and that they will be heard.”