On 27th of September, EUD participated in a conference on “Multilingualism and language diversity” organised in the European Parliament by MEP Hannu Takkula and MEP Michaela Šojdrová.
While the conference focused on spoken languages, our executive director Mark Wheatley had been invited as one of the speakers to give insights into the professional and cultural integration of sign language users in the EU.
He pointed out the importance of sign language recognition at national level in order to achieve equal (linguistic) human rights for Deaf people, as a lack of recognition and an incomplete implementation of such legislation creates barriers for deaf persons, for instance in accessing a qualified interpreter in court or when dealing with public authorities.
Furthermore, he presented the current state of recognition in the different Member States, raised awareness among participants about Helga Steven’s sign language conference the following day as well as about the petition EUD submitted to the European Parliament, requesting it to allow for the tabling of petitions in all European national and regional sign languages.
While it is up to the Member states to recognise their national and regional sign languages, he finally suggested to the EU institutions to adopt a guidance document presenting features of successful sign language recognition laws to help ‘standardisation’ of sign language recognition, as this could facilitate the freedom of movement for all deaf Europeans.