Casual Day has welcomed on board The Association for Hearing Loss Accessibility and Development (AHLAD), a newly formed Cape Town organisation that promotes the interests and rights of persons with hearing loss. Casual Day is celebrated on Friday 4 September this year.
AHLAD will be raising sticker donations through the Casual Day infrastructure to support their work in the community. AHLAD chairperson Michele Tonks says: “We are happy to join the Casual Day family and join hands with such a reputable brand. The donations coming from generous citizens will go towards eradicating the barriers that prevent persons with hearing loss from fully participating in life.”
In South Africa, about 7.5 percent of school-going children have varying degrees of hearing loss, and approximately one-third of persons older than 65 years are affected by disabling hearing loss.
Casual Day ambassador Simone Botha was born profoundly deaf, but was the recipient of a cochlear implant when she was 22 months old. A graduate of the UCT Ballet School and a member of the executive committee of AHLAD says: “I was lucky enough to have the benefit of this technology and I want others to have it too.”
She is a professional ballet dancer and she recently got a group of ballet dancers rehearsing for a show at UCT Ballet School to “spring into action” for Casual Day. She says: “This is a wonderful way for the entire country to show their support for persons with disabilities. We would love to see everyone use their imagination in interpreting the theme.”
Continues Tonks, also the mother of a hearing impaired daughter: “There has been a lot of progress in cochlear implant and hearing aid technology – and we would like this information to be more widely known. Our work is not only about supporting persons with hearing loss to attain their maximum level of independence and integration into the community, but also about lobbying at various levels for subtitles on television programmes, SMS services from companies providing emergency and medical services, and prevention of occurrence of deafness,” she says.
The AHLAD is also a strong lobby group working behind the scenes to change policy, both at government level and within the disability community. The organisation was recently instrumental in getting the South African Disability Alliance (SADA) to accept a proposal regarding the freedom of choice (for all persons with hearing loss). “From now on the interests of all who are Deaf and hard of hearing and using a signed language as well as persons who are deaf or hearing impaired but use other means of communication, will be equally recognised and protected.”
Concludes Tonks: “This is a huge leap for us in the battle to put hearing impairment on the agenda. Most people rub shoulders with hearing impairment in their day to day lives, so let us all stand together to create a more accessible and nurturing society. We are a group of passionate volunteers and we need the support of the community to do our work. So Spring into Action for Casual Day, on 4 September.”
Casual Day ambassador Jabulile Ngwenya was also born deaf, but only received her cochlear implant as an adult. “Having a wider range of tools for communication has made the world of difference to me as a writer.”
For stickers in the Western Cape call Esme at 021 555 2881
Stickers are also available nationally at all Edcon stores, which include the following brands: Edgars, Jet, JetMart, Boardmans, CNA, Red Square and Legit. Stickers will also be available at Absa, Game and DionWired stores, Shoprite and Checkers.
Casual Day is South Africa’s most successful fundraising project for persons with disabilities – and the amount raised for last year has climbed to R28 million. Sponsored by the Edcon Group, Casual Day is the flagship project of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA).