DCCT has been involved in a number of awareness-raising campaigns in the recent past. These have focussed on demanding an immediate change in the education system for Deaf school-aged pupils. Examples of DCCT’s activism include:
Attendance at a national meeting of Deaf people in Bloemfontein with the National Commission on Special Needs in Education and Training. Attendance at provincial meetings regarding special needs in education and training, and adult education services, where Deaf issues are raised by DCCT staff. Meeting with representatives from the Western Cape Education Department to highlight the need for immediate improvements in Deaf education and the provision of constructive suggestions as to how this may be achieved. Organization of a large community meeting held where discussions took place between the NCSNET and the Deaf community, drawing attention to the realities of Deaf education in the past and today, and the consequences of this in the lives of Deaf people. Organization of a protest march in Cape Town and the handing over of a 12 point memorandum explaining the demands of the executive members of DCCT to the government of South Africa.
Growth Within DCCT
DCCT has been involved in a number of self-help projects designed to empower Deaf people vocationally and socially. In addition, supportive services (counselling, social work services and interpreting) are offered to Deaf people by DCCT personnel. The services are determined according to the needs of the community, as shown by surveys of the membership, and the experiences of the workers involved with DCCT.
The profile of the Deaf community is one of the high levels of poverty, unemployment and poor education. Government projects that have formerly assisted needy members of the community through handouts such as the provision of food parcels are now increasingly demanding the development of the community and the move towards independence.
Many DCCT projects have the potential to offer development, training and/or employment for Deaf people. These include the literacy project, the audiology project, and the Development worker project. In order to implement this, funding is needed so that Deaf people can be employed within the organization, and then, in turn, offer development and training for other Deaf people in the community. It is essential that employment prospects are offered alongside training. Deaf people cannot have their expectations raised through leadership training, and then find that in spite of their development, they are not able to either improve their own personal situations or make a contribution to the development of other Deaf people. An example is a factory worker who may be interested in working within a Deaf organization, and who may undergo some form of training, but without the creation of jobs within service organization, there will be no real or actualized empowerment through development and training.
DCCT has a shortage of funds which leads to a shortage of manpower. People cannot afford to volunteer, given the socioeconomic reality in South Africa as a whole, and especially within the Deaf community. The projects which DCCT is involved with have all got the potential to expand, but have not been able to do so to date, because of a shortage of funds. However, given funding, the existing projects of DCCT have got the potential to provide employment of Deaf people within service projects that in turn reach large numbers of Deaf people.
Future Leaders in the South African Deaf Community
DCCT is committed to developing Deaf people within the organization, to improve the confidence, skills and foster independence within the Deaf community. Deaf leaders and role models from within South Africa are available to achieve this. A particular focus that is needed to achieve this is on youth development and school leavers. DCCT, as a Deaf organization sees that one of its most important areas of growth is the development of the youth, who are the Deaf leaders of tomorrow, and who will be responsible for the further development of the Deaf community in South Africa.
The Principles of DCCT Development
Affirmative Action: Through the employment of Disabled (Deaf) people, who normally are not given the opportunities to contribute to DCCT various programmes, and to gain administrative skills required to organize various programmes.
Self Help: Through the provision of training by Deaf people themselves, as fit with basic principles of DCCT.
Empowerment: Through involvement of Deaf people in decision making and participation.
Skill Development: Through the development of skills in Deaf people – both creative and administrative in nature