Introduction / History South Sudan achieved its independence in 2011 from the Republic of Sudan to its north. Prior to that, Sudan suffered under two civil wars. The second, which began in 1976, pitted the Sudanese government against the Sudan People's Liberation Army (PLA) and lasted for over twenty years. These wars have led to significant suffering among the Sudanese and South Sudanese people, including major gaps in infrastructure development and significant displacement of various people groups.
All of this war has traumatized the people of Sudan, and the Deaf in particular. The country appears to have a very small middle class, while a vast majority of its citizens are either very wealthy or extremely poor. The Deaf in South Sudan tend to be the poorest of the poor. Some cannot afford food and must stay at home with families (even though the home environ-ment often means that no one can communicate with them).
There are currently no Deaf schools in South Sudan. Deaf schools are typically the center of language and cultural development for the Deaf of a country. A lack of Deaf schools means that there is a need for a central cultural organization among the Deaf. Deaf churches could function in this role if they were well-established. There is currently only one Deaf church in South Sudan. This church meets in Juba, and has fewer than 50 members.
Because of the linguistic barriers between the Deaf and hearing the Deaf often remain culturally isolated from the hearing. Ninety percent of deaf individuals are born into hearing households, and thereby are involved in hearing culture. Some view them as cursed or not as fully capable of the same things that hearing people are. Thus, for example, Deaf people only earned the legal right to vote in 2010.