EUD would like to take this opportunity to congratulate both the Austrian and the Irish Deaf Association for their respective successes in the past few days. Both EUD members have been working hard towards the full recognition of their national sign languages, which is also one of EUD’s key long-term objectives. Austrian Sign Language has been recognised as a language in its own right since 2005. Austria is therefore one of only four countries in Europe to have mentioned sign language in its constitution (the others are: Finland, Hungary, and Portugal – see EUD sign language legislation publication for further information).
The Austrian Deaf Federation (Österreichischer Gehörlosenbund, ÖGLB) has managed to safeguard Austrian Sign Language as immaterial cultural heritage through the Austrian UNESCO branch. ÖGLB submitted the application mid-2013 after an initial idea by known Deaf activist and scholar Dr Paddy Ladd in 2007. This is the first cultural recognition of its kind and EUD hopes that this will generate positive feedback for other Deaf Communities across Europe and the world.
The Irish Deaf Society has been active for over 30 years, trying to achieve national recognition of Irish Sign Language. Thus far it is one of only a few EU countries not to have recognised its national sign language. Yesterday, 9 October 2013, the Irish Senate (Seanad) passed a motion to calling on the government to legally recognise Irish Sign Language. This is a significant step towards the full recognition of ISL and EUD would like to underline the importance of this decision for the Irish Deaf Community and the other countries that are still struggling to achieve recognition.
EUD sign language legislation book:
Austrian Deaf Federation:
Austrian constitution (German)
Austrian Deaf Federation Press Release:
Irish Deaf Society:
ISL Awareness week: