Recognising sign languages as official languages

Sign languages are used by millions of deaf persons throughout the world every day. However, few states have recognised them as official languages. This lack of recognition means it is not possible to guarantee access to education in sign languages and the provision of sign language interpretation in public services, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination declared.

Unanimously adopting a draft resolution, based on a report prepared by Miren Edurne Gorrotxategui (Spain, UEL), the Committee called for the official recognition of sign languages with a view to enabling deaf persons to exercise their fundamental rights, such as the right to employment, education, access to health services and participation in political life. According to parliamentarians, official recognition would also contribute to further promoting the richness of deaf culture and send a powerful message of inclusion to the deaf community.

Recognising sign languages as official languages would contribute, the text underlines, to promoting their use in public institutions, including national parliaments, and preventing discrimination. To have an impact, recognition must be accompanied by strong political commitment and the availability of financial resources in order to ensure that services and teaching in sign languages are genuinely accessible.