The Central Statistical Services (CSS) currently estimates that there are approximately 412 421 profoundly deaf people and approximately 1 237 264 extremely heard-of-hearing people in South Africa. Irene Bester of the SABC has noted that there may even be around 2 million people in South Africa who regard sign language as their fi rst language. It is estimated that the number of deaf and hard of hearing people stands at 5 million (Kruger 2000:35). According to Ethnologue there are 12 100 deaf persons in South Africa, including 6 000 Black, 2 000 English white, 2 000 Afrikaans white, 1 200 Coloured and 900 Indian (Gallaudet University 1986). Whilst there are a number of primary and secondary institutions dedicated to the education of the deaf and hard of hearing, facilities which function on a tertiary level are limited. Research has indicated that there exists a dire need for a facility to fi ll this void, and to simultaneously accommodate experiential spaces as well as the administrative functions required for the proper management of the needs of this sector of the population. The main objective of this dissertation is to create a centralized facility for the deaf and hard of hearing in Tshwane. This facility would focus on the wellbeing of the student and facilitate his or her introduction into society as a productive and well adapted individual through specialized and career orientated training and experiential exposure. As discussed in this document, the facility will serve as the headquarters for DEAFSA in Pretoria and also as a training facility in various fi elds. The provision of adequate and well-appointed facilities for the development of life skills for the deaf and hard of hearing is of paramount importance to achieve this objective. Apart from the educational and administrative components, one of the main features of the facility will be a Sound Exploratorium. This will be a space where sound will be introduced through the four other senses, making it possible for those who are hearing impaired to experience sound. Curiosity is intensifi ed when the use of one sense is limited or totally absent. Sound will become another dimension of the architecture and will be introduced through the building fabric and other media. The individual will be guided through the building and experience the sounds of the city and their environment through their other senses. Tagged sensory movement will guide the user through the facility, giving the individual a sense of power and accomplishment, and thus increasing the intensity of the experience. The architecture becomes a stage for activities where the visual and experiential dominates spatial understanding. The facility will enable the user to experience the city in a different way and become aware of how sound influences us within the built environment.
Dissertation (MArch(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2008.