#SASL12: What’s Next? Tips for SASL Interpreters.


On the 19th July 2023 at the Union Building in Pretoria; President Cyril Ramaphosa made the historical announcement of SASL being recognised as the 12th official language in South Africa. This is a huge milestone for the Deaf community, Deaf education, organisations, stakeholders, families – and of course, SASL interpreters.

The road ahead is long. This is only the beginning of the journey to cultural and linguistic restoration. Now the question is, ‘Where do SASL interpreters fit in?’ ‘What role do we play?’

The importance of Language, Culture & Identity

Professor and Founder of Wits Centre for Deaf Studies at Wits University, Claudine Storbeck explains that the recognition of SASL as an official language is a big step in the right direction. It’s an opportunity for the almost 4 million in South Africa (of whom 600,000 are SASL users) to properly access their human rights in a language they understand.

Furthermore, editorial storyteller Kelsey Holmes of Greenheart Club; emphasizes that language is at the core of one’s identity, with self and others who speak the same language.  This connection is such an important part of cultural exchange, building relationships and creating a sense of community.

Valuable Tips for SASL interpreters

*Disclaimer: The insights shared here come as a result of being a qualified SASL interpreter with over 10 years experience in the industry. Since 2020, Yellow Owl continues to explore disruptive ideas that are built on a foundation of hard work, practice and mentorship – credibility takes time.

Here are 3 tips for SASL interpreters looking to develop their skills and enjoy a dynamic career path: Create, Collaborate, Community.

CREATE: Now more than ever, it has become easier to create content, start a business, and build a successful brand – all online. Technology and social media has made it possible to reach a global audience and control the narrative of your own journey and story. Our SASL podcast Signs & Stories on YouTube is one example of how powerful storytelling can change people’s live in a positive way.

I strongly recommend having one or two active social media accounts and start sharing videos, pictures, written blogs or newsletters offering tips and experiences about a particular topic that you’re passionate about. Make sure you have gathered sufficient industry information to verify your content before posting – always do thorough research.

COLLABORATE: I cannot emphasize how crucial it is to partner with like-minded people, creators, or entities that share the same vision as you. Collaboration encourages teamwork, it provides a supportive environment, and you learn new skills by brainstorming different ideas. This is by far my favourite part of the creative process – building and achieving a goal together.

Work with experts outside your own industry: It could be in science, fashion, catering, motorsport or literature – anything! Yellow Owl has had the honour of doing fun and refreshing work with iconic brands, creative platforms and inspirational individuals. This is because of our appetite to take risks and understanding our role differently.

COMMUNITY: Find a group of people who share common values with you; this will create a sense of belonging, hope, and unity. A community promotes relationships of trust, empowering one another through knowledge sharing, and using your resources to serve others. It’s a living ecosystem of ideas, problem solving and genuine connections.

Volunteer at an organisation that will teach you a new skill; join an online group that challenges your opinions about social justice; or participate in a cultural activity that will help you overcome a fear. People and relationships matter. Investing time for loyal customers, followers, and friends has helped Yellow Owl grow organically.


SASL language practitioners must work closely together with the Deaf community – get involved and keep learning. Enrol in programmes or workshops that will help you master interpreting skills and sharpen your thinking; stay active in the Deaf community and know what’s happening.

The industry is changing at an incredibly fast rate! We need to constantly adapt, learn, unlearn and redefine our skills set. Let’s invest in the right tools, people and platforms that will elevate us to the next professional level. Leverage on information and technology to stay relevant; put in the hard work and watch exciting opportunities present themselves. Go for it!

By Yellow Owl

Welcome to Interpreter Insider, so glad you could join us! As an Insider you’ll be a member of this limited group of like-minded thinkers with exclusive knowledge about the ins and outs of the interpreting industry – and other related topics. You will have access to insights, experiences, tips and Yellow Owl's personal take on what the future of SASL interpreting may look like. Thuli Zikalala is the founder of Yellow Owl. This blog is a reflection of her bold decisions made about a year ago that led her to this very moment. It is a collection of the lessons learnt along her journey. Enjoy!

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