European Union of the Deaf > News > The Petitions Committee of the European Parliament takes a step closer to allow for the tabling petitions in national sign languages

The Petitions Committee of the European Parliament takes a step closer to allow for the tabling petitions in national sign languages

The Petitions Committee gives the President of the European Parliament until January 2021 to allow for the tabling of petitions in national sign languages of the EU

On Tuesday, 14 th of July of 2020, the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament discussed Petition No 1056/2016, tabled by EUD’s Executive Director Mark Wheatley, requesting the European Parliament to allow for the tabling of petitions in national sign languages of the European Union.

During the meeting, Mr Wheatley gave a remote presentation explaining the content of the petition on how it could be implemented. He stressed that national sign languages are fully-fledged natural languages that have the same linguistic properties as all the other EU languages, and that the EU must enable accessibility of information and communication in national sign languages as laid down in Articles 9 and 21 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by the EU in 2010. He also made reference to the 2010 Brussels Declaration on Sign Languages, which called onto the EU to ensure that ‘sign language users have access to public services in their national sign languages’.

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Mark Wheatley also explained that there are no technical barriers to implementing the petition, as the Petitions’ Portal of the European Parliament is already technically equipped to accept multiple file types, including video files, which would allow for the submission of petitions in sign languages.

Various representatives of Directorate-Generals participated in the discussion: Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support (DG ITEC), Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) and Directorate-General for Logistics and Interpretation for Conferences (DG LINC). Valter Mavric, from DGT, stressed his full commitment to finding a solution to allow for the tabling of petitions in sign languages, and a representative from DG ITEC explained that ‘from a purely technical point of view, submitting a petition in sign languages in a video format would be possible’.

All of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that took the floor during the discussion of petition expressed their full commitment to implement the petition. MEP Ádám Kósa reminded of the full support of the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, in a letter he sent to the Committee on Petitions in May 2020. Dr Kósa also underlined the need to increase the representation of persons with disabilities in the petitions’ procedure, and explained that this petition would increase the participation of persons with disabilities, especially amongst deaf and hard of hearing EU citizens.

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At the end of the meeting, MEP Dolors Montserrat, Chair of the Committee on Petitions, announced the decision of the Committee to
- keep this petition open;
- draft a letter to the President of the European Parliament Mr Sassoli with the following:
     - content of the petition;
     - suggestions by the parliamentary groups;
     - comments made by the Directorate-Generals; 
- give the President Mr Sassoli until the 1 st  of January 2021 to find a solution;
- pose a question to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) asking whether a change of the rules of procedure would be required;

Following Tuesday discussion, EUD would like to warmly thank all the MEPs involved for fully supporting the petition. EUD will continue to work closely with all relevant stakeholders and Members of the European Parliament to ensure the full implementation of the petition. EUD will communicate through its website and social media about the next steps in the regard.

Access the video recording of the meeting at the Committee on Petitions here, fully accessible in International Sign. The discussion for the EUD petition No 1056/2016 starts at 10:00:12.

Additionally, we would like to bring to your attention the following documents:
- Letter from the President of the European Parliament to the Committee on Petitions in support of EUD Petition 1056/2016 (May 2020)
- Letter from the Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support to the Committee on Petitions (May 2020)
- Letter from the Directorate-General for Interpretation and Conferences to the Committee on Petitions (November 2017)
- Petition file requesting the European Parliament for tabling of petitions in national sign languages used in the EU (2016)

 

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