The HI HOPES programme falls under the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Established in 2008, the Centre is the first formalised Deaf Education programme in South Africa, and was launched as a direct response to the great need in this field.
Deafness is one of the single largest prevailing disabilities in South Africa – with 300 000 to 400 000 Deaf persons considering South African Sign Language (SASL) as their first language.
Although South Africa has about 43 schools for the Deaf, the majority of teachers are not adequately equipped to intervene effectively. As a result, about 66% of Deaf persons in South Africa are functionally illiterate and on average, the general knowledge level equals that of an 8 year old hearing child.
Even more alarmingly, an estimated 70% of Deaf people are unemployed.
The objectives of the Centre for Deaf Studies are to:
- train, challenge, equip and inspire teachers of the Deaf
- provide opportunities for Deaf adults
- forge national and international links and partnerships
- initiate and support research within the field of deafness
- organise conferences and workshops on Deaf education
- provide home-based family-centred support for families of Deaf and hard of hearing infants (HI HOPES programme)
For more information, please visit the Centre for Deaf studies website.