- eDeaf: An Employment Company Run by the Deaf for the Deaf
Persistence of Marginalization
In the foreword to a white paper on an Integrated National Disability Strategy (Office of the President, 1997), T. M. Mbeki (then deputy president of South Africa, and later president) stated,
Among the yardsticks by which to measure a society’s respect for human rights, to evaluate the level of maturity and its generosity of spirit, is looking at the status that it accords to those members of society who are the most vulnerable, disabled people, the senior citizens and its children.
The concept of a caring society is strengthened and deepened when we recognize that disabled people enjoy the same rights as we do
We must play an active role in working with them to find joy and happiness and the fulfillment of their aspirations.(p. 1).
Despite T. M. Mbeki’s worthy goals, after 16 years into this new era, the disabled sector of our South Africa is still greatly marginalized in many respects.
eDeaf was founded early in 2007 to proactively counteract the marginalization of people with disabilities, with a specific focus on the employment sector. Its goal is to empower Deaf people through education and training in order to provide employment opportunities to those who are seen but not heard.
It is estimated that 70% of the Deaf in South Africa are unemployed due to historic factors, including a low standard of education in schools for the Deaf and a low literacy level, together with ongoing limited access to information.
The objectives of eDeaf are to upgrade the skills of Deaf candidates with scarce and critical life and job skills, and to prepare them optimally for specific suitable employment opportunities. Deaf trainers are used, as eDeaf strongly believes in the empowering idea of Deaf people training Deaf people, and the idea that a Deaf trainer knows best how to adapt training material to Deaf learners’ needs.
In addition to providing training, eDeaf also bridges the gap between the hearing and the Deaf by sensitizing the workplace to the needs of Deaf job candidates by way of workshops for employers and employees.
Captieux-Bhana is an executive member of eDeaf, which is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Perspectives of Children and Parents
The following four contributions explore the experiences of two families from both the parent and child perspectives. One is from a Black SeSotho-speaking family in Gauteng Province and one from a White Afrikaans-speaking family in Western Cape Province. In both instances, we will start with the Deaf child’s view (both children are now successful adults who are excelling in their respective fields), followed by the parent perspective.—The Editors.