The National Institute for the Deaf (NID) was founded in 1881 as the Doofstommen Instituut. The establishment of the Institute was an answer to a shared dilemma faced by two reverends of the Dutch Reformed Church. Both had Deaf congregants, but no idea how to serve them with the Word of God because they couldn’t communicate with them. The Institute was thus established to help Deaf people read and write so that they could read the Bible and also have access to the same rights as the hearing.

Some 138 years after the Doofstommen Instituut opened its doors, having seen many changes in its own history and that of the country it serves, NID has become a private, dynamic, innovative non-profit company.



1821: The need for education of the Deaf was mentioned in a letter by Rev George Thom to the Synod as early as 1821.

1880: The Synod of the DR Church decided to call the entire church for the founding of and educational institution for the Deaf.

1881: On 15 June 1881 the Doofstommen Instituut, with Mr Jan de la Bat as teacher and Lenie du Toit as learner, started in a room at 64 High Street, Worcester.

1905: The Deaf and blind were separated into two sections.

1928: The name “School for the Deaf” was officially used.

1929: The school moved from the overcrowded building in midtown to its present site next to the railway line.

1944: The first nursery school for the Deaf was started on 29 July 1944 with 18 children. The permanent building was later inaugurated on 2 March 1957.

1951: Helen Keller visits NID

1978: As early as 1935 Rev Gawie de la Bat pointed out to the church and the management of the Institute that multi-disabled adult Deaf people have to find refuge in a protected environment. On 1 August 1978 provision was made for this need when a new section, Nasorg vir Dowes, started to function within the Institute. This section is now known as NID Care.

1981: The Institute for the Deaf made it possible for the De la Bat Congregation to appoint a co-minister. Rev RP Hough was appointed in the position.

1987: The new school buildings were inaugurated. A congregation for the Deaf was established in Worcester with the financial support of the Institute. Rev SW Viljoen was the first minister.

1992: The new care facility (a mini village) for Deaf adults with multiple disabilities was built. The project was overseen by Rev. AL Smit.

1994: A new church building for the Deaf congregation in Worcester was designed and built by the Deaf themselves.
Inauguration of the new care facility for Deaf adults with multiple disabilities.

1997: The Institute for the Deaf played a key role in the translation of the Bible for the Deaf by the Bible Society. This process ended in 2000.

1998: The school became autonomous with its own governing body, in accordance with conditions of the new education act. The Institute’s control of the school was thus terminated after 117 years. The Institute continues to act as sponsor of the school.

1999: After 118 years the status of the Institute changed from an autonomous commission of the synod to a NPC (non-profit company).

2004: Africa Mental Health and Deafness Congress.

2005: Mental Health and Deafness World Congress

2006: NID Ministry Training was established. Training of the first Deaf pastors and ministers was started on 10 April of this year.

2007: NID opens its first home for elderly Deaf in Bellville, namely Rusoord.

2009: A second home for elderly Deaf, Shalom Old Age Home, opens in Worcester thanks to a generous donation by long-time donor, Mrs Jeanette Luttig.

2013: Minister Dr BE Nzimande officially opens the new NID Training buildings. This building project was funded by the National Skills Fund.

2014: NID laundry re-opens, thanks to generous donations from Standard Bank and many more Friends of the Deaf.

NID is a non-profit company (NPC) and a Level 1 BBBEE contributor. Donations to NID (including donations in kind) can be reciprocated with an 18A tax certificate.