Nal'ibali, has over the years partnered with Sign Language Education and Development (SLED) to recreate our World Read Aloud Day story in South African Sign Language (SASL). This year Zoliswa Flekisi is our SASL Language storyteller.
Tell us about Zoliswa? Who is she and where is she from?
My name is Zoliswa Flekisi and I am a Deaf, South African Sign Language storyteller, poet and teacher from a small village called Ncambedlana in the Eastern Cape.
How long have you been working for SLED?
I have worked for SLED for over 11 years.
How did you get involved with SLED?
I had been working as a teaching assistant to the very small Deaf children at Noluthando School for the Deaf in Khayelitsha and SLED had been running workshops at the school and they saw what I could do and offered me a job!
What is your role at SLED?
I have two main roles. Firstly as a SASL storyteller, poet and translator of stories like those created by Nalibali. Secondly as a SASL facilitator and assessor.
How did you get involved in the World Read Aloud day sign language video creation?
Some of my Deaf colleagues had done some and then I guess it was my turn!
How long have you been creating these videos?
I think about 4 years but I have been creating my own SASL stories since I was a child!
What excites you about making these videos for children on World Read Aloud?
I love the process of working with someone else’s story. I first need to make sure I understand the story. I like to read it in isiXhosa first and I study the pictures carefully so that I get an idea of the characters. Sometimes we need to fix ‘hearing’ issues in the story – like maybe there is a sound. In the World Read Aloud Nalibali stories we just assume that everyone is Deaf in the stories. So in Fly Everyone Fly!, the story for 2021, Gogo, Africa, Hope, Neo and all the others use SASL!
Before covid we know you would go to school and do the reading to children, tell us about that how was it and how many children over the years have you read to? How did the children receive the story telling.
I love that face to face interaction. The Foundation Phase Deaf children are so excited and involved. I show the recorded SASL version of the story and then together we do something about the story – maybe we act out a bit of the story or make something or do a worksheet. The children (and me too) don’t want the time to end and I usually show the story and do the activities with the older children too!
What would you say to encourage people to take part in World Read aloud day.
Reading to young children is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter if you are reading in isiXhosa, English or South African Sign Language! Of course stories are vital for young children but also that interaction between the child, the adult and the story are so important too!