The matrix of linguistic exclusions impeding career construction for D/deaf learners

Unati Stemela-Zali, Harsha Kathard, Maximus M. Sefotho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The purpose of this research study was to explore how D/deaf learners in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa constructed their careers and what types of support were available for them to do so. The study found that among the support required, support for their linguistic development, particularly Sign Language acquisition, was critical in home, school and community settings. Objectives: The objective of this study was to highlight the multiple linguistic exclusions faced by D/deaf learners in the Eastern Cape, which negatively impacted their career construction. Method: Savickas’s theory of career construction framed this analytical-qualitative case study. The study was conducted in two out of four schools for the D/deaf in two districts of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Data were gathered via four participant groups viz. Deaf learners, their parents, teachers and officials of the Department of Basic Education, as well as through document reviews. Results: The results indicated that multiple linguistic exclusions for these learners begin early in their lives and continue into their school years and beyond. These experiences at home, school and in social contexts combined impact negatively career construction and its prospects. Conclusion: This study concluded that linguistic exclusions experienced by Deaf learners are created by a combination of systemic factors, which impede the career construction of D/deaf learners. Implications and suggestions for advancing their linguistic inclusion are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera935
JournalAfrican Journal of Disability
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Careers
  • D/deaf
  • Education
  • Exclusion
  • Inclusive education
  • Sign language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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