Open main menu

South African Sign Language

South African Sign Language (SASL) is the official sign language used by Deaf people in South Africa. It is not an official language of South Africa.[1] The South African government added a National Language Unit for South African Sign Language in 2001.[2] SASL is not the only sign language used in South Africa,[3][4] but it is the language that is being promoted as the language to be used by all Deaf people in South Africa,[5] although the Deaf in South Africa historically do not form a single group.


South African Sign Language is not entirely uniform and continues to evolve. Due to the geographical spread of its users and past educational policies, there are localised dialects of South African Sign Language and signs with many variants. Earlier efforts to create reference material and standardise the language, such as books, can only be used as historical records of the language. Daily TV broadcasts in sign language give today's South African Sign Language its national cohesion and unity.


  5. Aarons, Debra and Philemon Aakach. South African Sign Language: one language or many? In Language in South Africa, ed by Rajend Mesthrie, 127-147. Cambridge University Press.