Clinical Sociologist in the School of Social Sciences, Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan delivered the keynote address at the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society’s Mother’s Month Breakfast.
Seedat-Khan emphasised the significance of honouring deaf mothers and the trajectories of mothering deaf children. ‘I am here as a mother, clinician and steadfast advocate for all differently abled persons. In South Africa, September is Deaf History Month. Many of us may know someone who is hearing compromised, and or clinically deaf. Yet, are we deaf aware?’ she asked.
Seedat-Khan noted that deaf mothering and mothering a deaf child is complex. ‘Both promise to deliver socially constructed new amazing and
challenging experiences. By loving differently abled and or deaf friends, family, children and colleagues, we create lifelong social connections.’
She reflected on the success of Ms Voloshni Annamallay, UKZN’s first-ever Deaf graduate to acquire both an undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications using South African Sign Language (SASL) as a means of communication.
‘We can all agree that being a deaf woman comes with its already fair share of challenges. Voloshni gives us all reason for pause, and reflective questioning. What are we doing for deaf mothers, children and university students? Varied social contexts inform reasoning, language, and communication acquisition, all of which determine a deaf person’s life trajectories,’ said Seedat-Khan.
She argued that systemic discriminatory practice imposes unrealistic demands on differently abled deaf learners with a blatant disregard
for a deaf reality.
‘Mothering strategies mandate teaching skills and self-advocacy for deaf children. Hearing children must be encouraged to acquire SASL skills to serve as change agents promoting social and professional inclusion. SASL must be prioritised through free access to promote relatable social bonds recognising sameness,’ said Seedat-Khan.
She recommended the adoption of clinical interventions to intensify inclusion of deaf and hearing mothers and children with weekly support groups to increase deaf awareness.
‘Deaf and hearing mothers have the same hopes and dreams for their children. Deaf prejudice inhibits inclusion of deaf mothers and children, compromising their well-being. A modified inclusive mindset fosters deaf awareness supporting successful outcomes,’ said Seedat-Khan.