In September, South Africa observed the National Month of Deaf People which was first commemorated at the World Federation of the Deaf in September 1951. The focus of this observation is on promoting awareness around the rights of Deaf persons and undertaking initiatives to ensure that they are adequately represented in all spheres of society.
Researchers at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC) are working to stop the abuse of the human rights of persons with disabilities. The researchers want to help victims with Complex Communication Needs (CCN) access justice and give them the ability to communicate through various means.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) reaffirms the basic human rights and dignity of persons with disabilities and advocates for the full participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life. However, persons with disabilities face numerous difficulties and according to a US study are four to ten times more likely to be victims of crime. The issue is further exacerbated in persons with Complex Communication Needs (CCN), because they do not have the ability to easily communicate that they were a victim of crime, exploitation or sexual abuse.
The abuse faced by persons with disabilities compared to persons without disabilities was found to be more severe, more violent, more prolonged, and more frequent. To add to this, due to the CCN of some persons with disabilities, crimes are not reported or prosecuted.
Researchers at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) have made a concerted effort to put a stop to the abuse of the human rights of persons with disabilities.
In order to do so, their research focussed on several different aspects relating to accessing justice for persons with CCN and how to give these individuals the ability to communicate about victimisation through various means. Universal design principles were used to help persons with disabilities in court, the South African Police Service (SAPS) was sensitised and trained on the challenges faced by persons with CCN, and an awareness programme was implemented to prevent abuse amongst children with CCN. Read more about the research here.