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People with Disabilities

Accesss for the Deaf & Hearing Impaired

If a person is deaf or has a hearing impairment that does not mean they will not want to visit South Africa’s National Parks.

South Africa’s Natural Heritage is a cherished or even sacred experience for many. Deaf and hearing impaired individuals can still absorb nature through their other senses or through the benefit of their own personal assistive listening and living devices.

To date the managements of the parks have done little specifically to accommodate the needs of guests with the sensory impairment being deaf or hearing impaired. Some staff have been exposed to Sign Language at disability workshops, but most of the staff who interact with guests will not have the necessary skills to communicate at a functional level. We also believe that the access needs of persons who became deaf later in life, as well as hearing impaired persons with mild to severe loss need the necessary attention. Those facilities that are suitable for use through good signage are thus more by accident than design.

As the South African Tourism Industry evolves and embraces the doctrine of Universal Access, SANParks must evolve too and look for ways to improve the receptiveness of the various parks to deaf and hearing impaired visitors. If you are reading this page and have any practical suggestions how parks can be made more suitable in this regard please let us know by contacting Chris Patton: chris.patton@sanparks.org

Useful websites

South African Hearing Institute (SAHI)

The SAHI website is a wonderful tool to inform society about the “impact of hearing loss” in people's lives. Hearing loss is something that could happen to any person. Eventually it does happen to a certain extent in all of our lives sooner or later. We believe that each person who wishes to empower him/herself with the knowledge on the “impact of hearing loss” should have the opportunity to do so. Integration of this marginalized group of persons must be the common goal and role players/individuals in South Africa must take hands to achieve this.

The focus areas of this initiative are as follows:

  • Sharing information on the “impact of hearing loss” in own life (Or life of a person close to me).
  • The South African Hearing Institute (SAHI) is based on the principles of the UN-Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with special reference to Articles 1, 8, 9 & 21.
  • Providing information to society on the integration of persons with hearing loss in line with the principles of the South African Constitution, Employment Equity Act, Code of Good Practice and Technical Assistance Guidelines on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities (TAG).
  • Distribution of information on the accessibility of buildings, working environments, residential facilities, homes, etc to persons with hearing loss (In line with Universal Design Principles).
  • Distribution of information on the availability of assistive listening and living devices (for example: Fm-transmitters/receivers, Tele-coil & induction loop systems, accessible emergency alarm systems and accessible evacuation procedures for persons with hearing loss).
  • Promotion of support structures / specialized services that are available to the benefit of persons experiencing hearing loss, their families & friends, employers, professionals, etc.
  • Providing information on accredited training sessions on the content of hearing loss that are available in South Africa.

If you would like to share information regarding the accessibility of your services and environment to persons with hearing loss - please contact SAHI via the website: SAHI wants to give recognition to initiatives taken, motivating other role players/individuals to do the same.