Deaf Learners in Grades 10 to 12 have special concessions for subject choices.  Because their first language is Sign Language, which is not part of the national curriculum yet, Deaf Learners are allowed to study only one language instead of the usual two.   They also have a special concession with regard to the level of the language they choose. Whereas hearing Learners have to study a home language, Deaf Learners may study the language they choose at First Additional Language level if they wish.

To make up for not registering for two Languages, the Learners at St Vincent School for the Deaf choose another elective to take the place of the second language and to ensure they are still taking the required seven subjects to achieve a National Senior Certificate (NSC).  Although the language of the questions is adapted in special papers for the Deaf, the content and level of the NSC papers is exactly the same for the Deaf as for the Hearing.

An endorsed NSC is offered by the education department which requires five subjects passed at 30% or more.  As this is not helpful when it comes to University entrance we aim for the national requirement of seven subjects.

Because of the language disadvantage, Grade 12s take two years to study for their NSC.  Hearing Grade 12s, who have to squeeze all seven subjects into less than a year, are under pressure. For deaf Learners who have to come to terms with the language required for the exams, the pressure is even greater, so doing a two-year NSC allows for better results and a greater chance of achieving university entrance.

Subjects offered at St Vincent School for the Deaf in the FET Phase are:

  • Business Studies
  • Computer Applications Technology
  • Design
  • Engineering Graphics and Design
  • English First Additional Language and Home Language
  • Life Orientation
  • Mathematics

Unfortunately choices cannot be offered for the NSC as the high school is not a large one and the teacher to learner ratio precludes a large number and variety of teachers with the subject expertise needed at this level.

There are three compulsory subjects required by the Education Department:


There are two languages of teaching and learning at St Vincent School: Sign Language which is used to explain concepts and communicate with the Learners, and English which is used for notes and written work including assessment.  Often speech is used as well so that Learners can practise using residual hearing and lip-reading skills.

English is offered at the First Additional Language and at the Home Language Levels.  It is not easy for the Deaf to acquire a written language which is based on phonetics and is, for first language speakers, acquired through hearing.


Mathematics is offered at St Vincent School because Mathematical Literacy is based in a lot of written language which puts deaf learners at a disadvantage.


Life Orientation is a compulsory subject but also is essential to help deaf learners relate to a hearing world as often they lack experience of and are isolated from it. It also assists with career choices which can be limited in terms of ability to hear.


Business Studies helps learners to understand the corporate world so that they have a better understanding of what is happening in the work place.


Design is a wonderfully visual subject for deaf learners and often deaf learners have a gift for observing detail.  It is a means of expression where written language accounts for only half of the marks.


As with Design, observation and visual detail are important and the Deaf can excel in this subject as the written language is at a minimum.



This is a useful subject to have in terms of a career later as computers are used so much in the corporate world and being computer literate is an advantage when applying for a job.  It is a means of communication, too, which doesn’t rely on hearing.



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