Intercultural communication between deaf and hearing students at a South African university

  • Avela Ntsongelwa University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Milagros Rivera-Sánchez, Prof. University of the Free State, South Africa
Keywords: Intercultural communication, Deaf culture, Cultural identities, South African Sign Language, Subculture


This study investigates the way hearing and Deaf students communicate and develop working and social relationships at the University of the Free State. Centred on the cultural identities of the Deaf subculture and the hearing culture, the authors explore how these two groups interact and how they perceive each other in the context of intercultural communication. The study was able to reach saturation with a total number of eleven participants from the Deaf (n=3) and hearing (n=9) culture. The findings revealed that Deaf students at the University interact with hearing students mostly in class and on-campus residences. Beyond those limited spaces, Deaf students remain isolated from the rest of the university population. The findings also suggest that language is one of the biggest barriers to achieving effective intercultural communication.


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