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The City of Joburg, in partnership with DeafSA, took part in a silent walk around the Zoo Lake to celebrate the annual International Week of the Deaf.

The event s brought the general public and the deaf community together in a 5km and 2km walk that exposed the public to the difficulties faced by those who are hard of hearing.

City of Johannesburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development, Cllr Mpho Phalatse, led the 5km walk around Zoo Lake.

Participants were not allowed to talk and the public was given earplugs to make them feel and understand the experiences that the deaf community go through everyday. Just before the start of the walk, MMC Phalatse told the participants that it was important that the City of Joburg joined forces with DeafSA to build an inclusive community that works to better the lives of all.

“As a city, it is important that we partner with all communities including those who have been marginalised due to their health and physical conditions. I am happy that we are partnering with DeafSA and championing their rights through our programmes in the City,” said Phalatse.

Before the walk, MMC Phalatse shared the platform with DeafSA representatives during a live television broadcast that focused on annual international week of the Deaf. During the broadcast, Cllr Phalatse said it was important for South Africans to not only embrace the deaf community into the City’s day to day programmes but for everyone to learn sign language. Plans are afoot by national government to add sign language as an additional 12th language.

After the silent walk, members of the public said they were grateful to be afforded the opportunity to share the space with members of the deaf community. 
Stacy Phoko from Linden said she joined the walk in honour of brother who was deaf. She said her brother was run over by a speeding car in a street that had no street signs.

She said she supported the initiative by the City of Johannesburg to include the deaf community in all of its programmes and begin to include sign language in its communication strategy.