Before Sonia Shefania commenced her duties as the office administrator and finance officer at the national association of the deaf at the Okuryangava Disability Resource Centre earlier this year, she had some knowledge of the Sign language alphabet.
For her to communicate effectively with deaf people, she had to learn more signs.
“I got a Sign language dictionary and started studying on my own. I would then do recaps with the Sign language instructor and a colleague at work,” she told Youth Corner.
Shefania, who completed her honours’ degree in economics at the University of Namibia in 2018, is now able to sign at small gatherings and events for people with hearing impairments.
“I interpret for my colleagues, friends and those who come into our offices for enquiries,” she added.
Shefania said Sign language has not only helped her communicate with deaf people, but it has also helped her in becoming a better listener.
“This is because Sign language requires concentration; one needs to be looking at gestures, body movements and facial expressions because you could easily change a statement by simply raising your eyebrows,” she explained.
Shefania emphasised the importance of learning Sign language.
“You will eventually encounter a deaf person if you work at the hospital, in a shop and school. Sign language is a language on its own, and deaf people love to see their language used before their eyes.”
Namibian Sign language literacy and communication is regarded as inherent facets of human development for deaf learners and form the basis of lifelong learning.
It is offered as a subject up to grade 12 for improved learning, the strengthening of identity and the promotion of first languages in Namibia.