A new children’s book includes visual sign language translations for Deaf children.  

Mpumi and Jabu’s Magical Day, is a children’s book that follows the story of Mpumi, a hearing girl, and her friend Jabu, a Deaf boy. The book, which was published on Sunday, July 26, is set to re-released in mid-August with a visual sign language translation and a video translation in an e-book format to widen its reach.  

 These features will enable Deaf children to read the story in their first languageSouth African Sign Language (SASL), ensuring that the meaning of the story is not lost in translation. Associated professor of Deaf Studies, and founder and director of the Wits Centre for Deaf Studies in the school of educationClaudine Storbeck, co-authored the book with social anthropologist and author, Lebohang Masango 

Mpumi and Jabu’s Magical Day is the sequel to Masangos first book, titled Mpumi’s Magic Beads. Masango emphasised how important it is that her work reaches all audiences, Children’s books bring me so much light and bcreating this book, I wanted the Deaf child to be seen, Masango said 

“Deaf children have never seen Deaf characters in books and in their world, ‘normal’ is hearing children. We want people to know that Deaf children are normal, they just use a different language,” Storbeck told Wits Vuvuzela. 

The book is currently available online in six South African languages including isiZulu, Sesotho and Setswana and is expected to be translated into all 11 languages.  The book also contains the South African SASL alphabet to help hearing children learn basic SASL and a portion of the book’s sales goes to the HI HOPES foundation, an outreach programme of the Centre for Deaf Studies.   

Kirsty Maclons (58)the programme director for Deaf Education at the Sign Language Education and Development (SLED), an organisation dedicated to Deaf education, explained to Wits Vuvuzela that there are few books that have Deaf characters appropriately represented in them.  

Deaf characters are not seen as the heroes or they come across as needing to be looked after. For a Deaf child to access a book, the best way they [the authors] can do it is by including a full translation in sign language, such as a DVD or something you can download online,” says Maclons 

AMENDMENT: This article has been amended to remove to the ages of the individuals quoted. This was done at the request of one of the individuals (06.08; 8:48am).

FEATURED ARTICLE: Mpumi and Jabu’s Magical Day aims to normalise Deaf characters in children’s books. PHOTO: Provided.