Signing choirs use various formats of sign language to represent the lyrics of a wide range of songs creating a spectacular visual performance that unites both hearing impaired and hearing communities under one roof through the power of music.
The Drakenstein Sign Language Choir was constituted after Naki Jansen van Rensburg attended a function at La Rochelle Primary School in April 2013, and saw someone communicating with hearing impaired people in sign language – something which immediately set her mind on fire.
After the function Naki approached the lady, Verna Kaspers, and asked her whether she would be interested in teaching sign language at DAPD. Verna agreed with alacrity and thereafter taught sign language once a week to those attending DAPD.
Over time, Naki and Verna realised that they could SING in sign language and the choir was spontaneously born! 2020 marks the 7th year of the DAPD Sign Language Choir’s existence.
The very first song that the brand new DAPD Sign Language Choir learned and performed at the International Day for Persons with Disabilities in Worcester on 3 December, 2013, was WE ARE THE WORLD by Michael Jackson.
After that there was no stopping this fantastic choir and their next hit song – THE PRAYER by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli – saw them performing at the Women’s Day Celebrations at the Artscape in August 2014.
The DAPD Sign Language Choir embraces the following vision shared by the Sign Language instructor, Verna Kaspers.
- To enhance work ethic, and support those who are challenged and living with an impairment.
- To integrate with with persons living with an impairment who actively contribute and strive to improve their quality of life.
- To cross the bridge from the hearing world to those that are challenged with hearing impairments.
- Learning sign language contributes and uplifts the education of not only the person challenged with a hearing impairment, but of all persons challenged with various types of impairments.
SING AND GROW – Through music and singing and the use of sign language, we not only get to know ourselves and our own abilities but also those of others. It makes us sensitive and aware of people who have to live with the challenging reality of of being hearing impaired to a greater or lesser extent daily.
The DAPD Sign Language Choir has had many noteworthy performances, including the following:
- Serve & Grow Project 2020 of Boys Primary Paarl and Sing & Grow Sign Language Choir of DAPD performance at Assembly 28 February 2020
- Appreciation Ceremony DAPD December 2019
- Klop! (Highlight) October 2019
- Memorial Service of Ina Jansen Van Rensburg, Simondium April 2019
- Appreciation Ceremony “Celebrating Creativity”, Simondium December 2018
- NG Kerk Suider-Paarl February 2018
- De La Bat Worcester with Afrikaans.com in October 2018
- Sign Language Celebration, Worcester December 2017
- Casual Day Show & Tell, Kelvin Grove 2017
- Huguenot College, Wellington August 2017
- Artscape Afrikaans Sing, September 2016
- Eros School, Sign Language Drama in April 2015
- Sign Language Drama Performance, Appreciation Ceremony DAPD, Island of Hope Hall, Paarl December 2014
- Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation at the University of Western Cape in October 2014
- Womens Day Festival, Artscape, August 2014
- International Disability Day Worcester, December 2013
The Sign Language Choir consists of 15 members, 4 of whom are hearing-impaired.
Songs that are well-practiced and which we already bring to the stage are:
- The Prayer – Celine Dion and Andrea Boccelli
- We Are the World – Michael Jackson
- Welcome to Cape Town
- N’kosi Sikileli
- Mamma – Kurt Darren
- My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
- Smile – Charlie Chaplin
- Daar Kom die Alibama
- More Lyk dit Anders – Rina Hugo
- Let the Children Have a World – Dana Winner
- Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston
- Dankie – Bles Bridges
- That’s What Friends are For – Stevie Wonder
- Love Oh Love – Lionel Ritchie
There is still much more to come for this group, with members who are dedicated for the benefit and improvement of their own personal life, but also to bringing a song to the hearts of those who can’t hear!