DeafNET Centre of Knowledge will be celebrating its tenth birthday on 1 July!
It was established as a division of the National Institute for the Deaf (NID) on 1 July 2006 by De Stichting Vrienden van Effatha (SVE), the Netherlands, and the NID.
The understanding between SVE and NID was to build DeafNET into an independent, international organisation serving the interests of Deaf persons and their families on the continent of Africa.This was achieved on 1 April 2012, after DeafNET’s registration as a charitable trust on 1 December 2011. Registration as public benefit and non-profit organisation followed soon afterwards. Thanks to the combined support and guidance of NID and SVE, the transition to autonomy was successful and positioned DeafNET well for its responsibility towards Deaf persons and their families in Africa.
We at DeafNET are committed to promoting the human rights of the Deaf, as well as enhancing their well-being through training, development and the implementation of programmes that promote respect for Deaf persons’ language and culture. DeafNET renders services and aims to improve the quality of life of Deaf people in South Africa and on the African continent. All of our projects have the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) as a foundation.
We applaud founder Reverend AL Smit for his enormous contribution to the growth of the organisation and mostly for the value he added to the lives of the Deaf in Africa.
A support programme for educators of Deaf learners to further develop their knowledge and skills was developed, with a network of African Deaf and hearing experts. It already shows positive results – the level of literacy, numeracy and bilingual ability of Deaf learners improved significantly. DeafNET is looking at partnering with universities to research the programme’s effectiveness.
DeafNET sees the legal recognition of sign languages in African countries as a key issue. It supports national associations for the Deaf with awareness raising and the production of sign language DVDs and manuals to promote it as equal to other languages.
Self-representation and leadership skills are essential in order for Deaf persons to take their rightful place in society and to improve their socio-economic situation. The leadership and management training workshops and continuous development programme of DeafNET will continue to equip and support Deaf community leaders in this respect.
Transfer of knowledge and skills to Deaf persons and their communities was a priority in all activities and projects. It included entrepreneurship skills and the initiation of bee-keeping by Deaf entrepreneurs. Partnerships were established to ensure mentorship and sustainability. HIV/Aids awareness and prevention training workshops are conducted. Deaf persons are trained and supplied with training toolkits to disseminate information and knowledge in an accessible and culturally sensitive manner. The overall health and well-being of Deaf persons and their families is a major concern of DeafNET and the Africa Contact Group for Mental Health and Deafness, resulting in regular workshops.
The business sector, private individuals, organisations and partners are invited to join forces with DeafNET and its volunteer network, to ensure the expansion and continuation of its activities, programmes and projects to improve the health and socio-economic well-being of Deaf persons and their children in Africa.
DeafNET privileged to have the support of a major sponsor, donors, goodwill ambassadors and partners who believe in its cause. Without their support, it would not be possible to carry out our vision and mission. A word of thanks goes out to all our supporters for their active involvement, friendship and professional guidance.
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