The fight for each country’s primary sign language(s) to be recognized by the government is a long-standing battle that many countries have won throughout Europe. In 2016, two countries have been closing in on the victory of getting their language(s) recognized as an official language. This is an exciting milestone for those that have worked for years to get to this point in time.
Equality for Sign Language is a milestone that many countries either dream of or cherish as part of their culture. Canada is coming upon that milestone thanks to the Canadian Association of the Deaf/L’Association des Sourds du Canada. They are spearheading this effort to get sign languages recognized in Canada and participating in the federal accessibility consultation sessions. Frank Folino the President of CAD, James Roots, Executive Director of CAD; and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities attended the reception for International Day of Persons with Disabilities. They have been the key players behind the hard work in making this possible.
In Employment and Social Development Canada, they took the time to look at some model countries that have notable legislatures about sign language including but not limited to New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, and Scotland. This review was to help the government determine exactly how they would be enacting their federal laws. The interesting thing about Canada’s efforts in getting their sign language recognized is that it is not about just one type of sign language but two: ASL and LSQ.
Back in 2010, a UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities was ratified by Canada. This declaration had called for countries to provide services in the country’s sign language and implement it as an official language. Canada’s goal is to have this legislation in place by the end of 2017 or early 2018.
Canada is also behind in human rights for those that are deaf and hard of hearing. Just on Thursday, December 1; Disabilities Minister Carla Quatrough announced that the cumbersome process that is currently in place for human rights complaints will no longer be mandatory and the government is working to provide an an optional part of the UN declaration that would allow Canadians with disabilities to file a human rights complaint with the United Nations and let the international body launch investigations into systemic issues in Canada.
“We have heard loud and clear from people across the country that there has to be some kind of teeth to this, that there has to be some kind of enforcement mechanism. It has to be aspirational for sure, but it also has to set some kind of expectation whether it be in the form of standards or guidelines.” Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough.
As of July of 2016, Europe is way ahead of the game. Only Italy and Luxembourg were left to recognize sign language as an official language in their country (LIS is the sign language of Italy) and so the Italian deaf community came up with the Hashtag #ITALIALOVELIS to spread awareness of the request for their language to be recognized and to help communication barriers to be torn down. This ideally would promote integration of the deaf and hearing world because of the need for LIS to encourage the fostering of their capabilities to learn Italian.
Present Chairman of the Healthcare Commission, Fabio Rolfe, the Lombard Senator Laura Bignami, MEP Angelo Ciocca (in liaison from Brussels) experts and representatives deaf national Board met to discuss the promotion of the language and on the many critical issues yet to be resolved. In particular, we talked about accessibility in the health world, at school and in the workplace.
Recognized in Europe as early as 1988, supported by UNESCO, today in Italy the Lis is used by 43,000 people, including 5,000 in Lombardy.
“The conference – explains Carolina Toia – is the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Lombardy Region and the National Authority for the protection and assistance of the Deaf (ENS), which led to the first draft of the bill for the promotion of LIS and then to its approval in the regional Council. The LIS is a real language, with precise grammar, syntax and its own morphology, and as such should be recognized and promoted. ” (Que Brianza)
The Pirelli has already approved a regional law on Lis, the Italian Sign Language. But to keep attention focused on the subject in recent days has organized a meeting with experts and national authority representatives deaf.