DeafNET Centre of Knowledge (DeafNET) is a network of knowledge and expertise in the interest of people in Africa who experience hearing loss and related communication barriers.

DeafNET is an international organisation that operates on the African continent and adjacent Indian Ocean Islands, and is registered in South Africa as a Charitable Trust, Non-Profit Organisation and Public Benefit Organisation.

Its main objectives are the particularising, exchange and dissemination of knowledge, expertise and skills in order to empower all persons with hearing loss and related communication barriers on the African continent to achieve their full potential.

These objectives are achieved among others by facilitating and promoting education, development, training, social services, and spiritual and mental well-being to such persons.

The objectives are furthermore achieved through the promotion of Sign Language and other preferred means of communication of persons with hearing loss, including appropriate utilisation of assistive devices.

DeafNET is also committed to contributing to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and fully supports the Eight Millennium Goals of the United Nations to make the world a safer and better place that must make provision for the unique needs of deaf persons and their families in the operational area of DeafNET.

A Short History

The DeafNET Centre of Knowledge (DeafNET) was established at Worcester in July 2006 in partnership with De Stichting Vrienden van Effatha (SVE) in the Netherlands and the National Institute for the Deaf (NID) in South Africa. On 1 December 2011 DeafNET was registered as an autonomous organisation through the combined efforts of SVE and NID.

The early beginnings of DeafNET can be traced back to the reach-out-and-share programmes of the NID that started in 1975. Other initiatives that have contributed to the forming of DeafNET include:

  • The Zweletemba Community Project since 1992
  • Assistance with the planning and establishment of the Schenkenfelden Lebenswelt Centre for Deaf adults with multiple disabilities near Linz in Austria (1997 – 1999)
  • Serving on the mental health experts panel of the World Federation of the Deaf (2004 – 2007)
  • Participation at the World Congresses of the World Federation of the Deaf in 2004, 2007 and 2011
  • The presentation of the Africa Workshop on Mental Health and Deafness in 2004
  • The establishment of the Africa Contact Group for Mental Health and Deafness in 2005
  • The presentation of the 3rd Mental Health and Deafness World Congress in 2005 at Worcester
  • Leadership and Management training workshops for Deaf leaders since 2006 in South Africa and other countries on the African continent including the adjacent Indian Ocean Islands.
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