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MTN SA drives deaf awareness through love of music

Although this past month is traditionally the time we celebrate our culture and heritage, September is also National Deaf Awareness Month in South Africa. With approximately 4 million South Africans having hearing difficulties, with an estimated 500 000 and 600 000 using South African Sign Language (SASL), it has become more important than ever to acknowledge people living with hearing challenges and disabilities.

Doing its part in driving inclusivity, MTN SA partnered with up-and-coming rapper, The LazarusMan and St Vincent's School for the Deaf to create a bespoke track using SASL for the hard of hearing and/or deaf community during the month of September.

The LazarusMan specifically learnt SASL for the creation of track, entitled DefBars. The lyrics, which are all signed, can only be understood if you know or are prepared to learn the basics of sign language.

"Connecting people and enabling them to communicate is at the heart of our business," says Jacqui O'Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs at MTN SA. "Hard of hearing and deaf South Africans do not have the same access to most services that able-hearing South Africans do, and for this reason we wanted to package unconventional, although uniquely South African, content specifically for the deaf community."

The track was mastered by Hey Papa Legend to ensure the vibration within it can be 'heard' by deaf South Africans, and the music video was filmed with the supervision of St Vincent's school to ensure that all the signs are visible and understood.

"Rap artists are known for using their hands in music videos, so this genre of music and The LazarusMan were a natural fit to bring this concept to life. Knowing how to communicate in all South African languages, including SASL, should be a goal for all. In fact, some communities are lobbying for it to become the 12th official language. Not only does this track highlight this need in an engaging and entertaining way, it should also encourage South Africans to learn the basics of SASL," says O'Sullivan.

While this track works to raise the level of awareness and the importance of being able to understand all our fellow South Africans, it is not the only initiative that supports this cause. MTN has created a USSD version of its emergency services line, which allows hard of hearing and deaf South Africans, or those who cannot speak over the phone for any reason, to still have access to the same services that all South Africans can benefit from.

These services include access to the South African Police Service and emergency medical and fire services.

Using the MTN emergency USSD services takes only two easy steps:

* Save the following number *130*3272*29# as a contact on your phone under MTN 112 or a name you will remember for emergencies; * When you are in an emergency, call that number and select the service option. An SMS message will be sent to the MTN 112 Emergency Contact Centre, which will be in communication with the client via SMS within the agreed emergency service level timelines.

The music video can be viewed here:

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MTN

MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: "MTN".

As at the end of 30 June 2010, MTN recorded 129.2 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. The MTN Group is a global sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and has exclusive mobile content rights for Africa and the Middle East. Visit http://www.mtn.com and http://www.mtnfootball.com.