Access to information has taken on a new meaning for the deaf audience of Ukhozi FM this Heritage month. The medium of Radio, traditionally reserved for hearing citizens, became accessible to the deaf community through a new SABC innovation that aims to discharge its public service mandate of serving a diverse society. Through this initiative, the SABC has ensured that its programming across its radio, television, and digital platforms, reaches a larger part of the society irrespective of their geographical location, socio-economic status, age, disability, and the language they speak.
Throughout history, public service broadcasting has been a vehicle through which citizens are informed on a variety of subjects and acquire knowledge and information which enables them to participate in the democratic system of our country. Most public service broadcasters (PSB) around the world draw their mandate from the Reithian public service broadcasting philosophies which indicate that public broadcasters must provide services that are aimed at informing, educating, and entertaining the citizens. Therefore, public broadcasters including the SABC are mandated to maximize serving all citizens in a democracy to ensure that citizens have access to and participate in public life.  The initiative by Ukhozi FM to integrate sign language into its programming is in place to ensure that the programmes offered by PSB institution are tailor-made for the diverse tastes and interests of the people.
This initiative is a ground-breaking effort as never in the history of public broadcasting in South Africa has a Radio station integrated sign language in its programming to ensure inclusivity of its diverse audience. Furthermore, Ukhozi FM has created a new radio audience that has never experienced radio before, utilizing social media as an enabler. It is therefore imperative that the SABC continuously amplifies its efforts to ensure that none of the members of the society are left behind. According to the South African National Deaf Association (SANDA), an advocacy organization with a role of promoting and advancing the rights of Deaf people, there are over more than four million deaf citizens in South Africa, until recently have had limited access to radio broadcasting.
In line with the SABC’s Editorial Policies which govern SABC programming on a wide range of issues including stereotyping and discrimination, race, gender, disability, violence, audience advisories, privacy, dignity and reputation, and children, Ukhozi FM’s 12:00-15:00 show, ‘Kanye Nawe’ is a culmination of the SABCs’ #Disability360 intervention which mandates the public broadcaster’s content to be inclusive of people living with disabilities. Each Friday, a professional interpreter joins the last hour of the show dedicated to hosting artist interviews and tackling disability issues. The artist’s interview is then broadcast on Ukhozi FM’s social media platforms of Facebook LIVE and the interpreter’s Instagram Live.  To date, Ukhozi FM LIVE page attracts 300- 500 viewers and the numbers reach up to 30 thousand viewers after the interview post is saved on the timeline. The numbers are growing exponentially, demonstrating the need for such programming in the community. This new audience group for Ukhozi FM comprises of an international deaf audience and attracts people of all races.
Central to the overall programming across all SABC platforms is broadcasting to meet the needs of all audiences and empower the South African citizenry at large.  The SABC has set the highest of editorial standards, incorporating the values and principles of the South African Constitution, the requirements of the broadcasting legislation and policies and most importantly, the expectations of its audiences. The public service broadcaster will continue to ensure the successful delivery of important statutory obligations that have been bestowed upon it by the broadcasting legislation framework.