Deaf South Africans can now learn about HIV and AIDS, sexual abuse and sexual rights in a specially designed comic book called Are your rights respected? The 16-page manual follows a group of students at a school for the deaf who use South African Sign Language (SASL) rather than the traditional speech bubbles to communicate. The comic has been developed by the Gay and Lesbian Archives (GALA) and sponsored by the Foundation for Human Rights.
National HIV/AIDS education programmes in South Africa have largely overlooked disabled people including the blind and the deaf. Part of the problem is that health workers are not trained to use SASL, the language of communication of 500,000 out of an estimated four million deaf people or people with hearing difficulties in the country. Further, deaf people in South Africa generally have a lower level of literacy than hearing people due to inequalities in education opportunities, meaning that written information is often inaccessible.
With its use of signs the comic aims to fill the gap. It is free of charge and available from DEAFSA and GALA. It can also be downloaded from www.irinnews.org/aids/pdf/GALA-AreYourRightsRespected.pdf