On the In March 2022 the CRPD Committee will hold its 26th session and 15th pre-sessional working group, with the review of the European Union, for which the CRPD Committee will adopt the List of Issues Prior to Reporting.
Before the adoption of the List of Issues Prior to Reporting for the EU, EUD and other European organisations were able to submit their alternative reports. In its alternative report EUD highlighted its key concerns, which were (i) status of national sign languages at the EU level (ii) lack of recognition of the national sign languages by the EU (iii) lack of recognition of the linguistic and cultural status of sign languages and deaf culture at the EU.
In the report, EUD highlights that national sign languages are languages of the multilingual EU and not the communication tools/formats/means. The EU has taken very little action so far to ensure that national sign languages in the EU are given the status of fully fledged languages that are considered as equivalent and equal languages to spoken languages, even though all the EU Member States have already done so. EUD highlights that the EU must take action to ensure that status of national sign languages as languages is ensured to be in line with the Article 2 CRPD which places sign languages on an equal footing with spoken languages.
EUD also emphasises that according to the CRPD, the use of national sign languages in the EU must be accepted and facilitated and the EU must recognise and promote national sign languages as well as ensure access to professional sign language interpreters, however to date, even though some progress is seen, more action at the EU level is needed. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first international human rights instrument that recognised sign languages being equal to spoken languages, and obliges its States Parties, including the EU to promote, protect, recognise and facilitate the use of national sign languages. EUD notes that the EU institutions however provide with interpretation in International Sign on ad hoc basis, however accessibility in national sign languages is not guaranteed at the EU.
EUD highlights that currently all the EU Member States have recognised their national sign languages at national level, however the official sign languages of the EU Member States are not yet recognised as official languages of the EU, and this should be addressed in the EU’s future compliance with the CRPD. Moreover, EUD highlights that under the CRPD, the EU is obliged not only to promote and facilitate the use of national sign languages but also to promote the linguistic identity of deaf communities, including deaf culture.
You can find the full report on the website of the CRPD Committee.