[lg policy] UK: Minority Status Call For Sign Language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 20 13:39:51 UTC 2009

Minority Status Call For Sign Language

by Sarah Ismail
June 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm

I’ve just read on the BBC News website that, at the Voices of the West
conference on Scotland’s “lesser used” languages, to be held in
Inverness tomorrow (Saturday 20th June) Professor Graham Turner, of
Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, plans to argue that Sign Language
should be given the status of an indigenous and minority language. I
have no doubt that Deaf people are very happy about this idea. (the
Deaf see themselves as able-bodied speakers of a language and members
of a minority community, while the deaf see themselves as disabled.)

The thing is that I can hear, and I still think this is a great idea.
I hope that all of you can also hear, so I wanted to know how you feel
about it. I don’t think your opinion on this has to be based on
whether or not you see deafness as a disability. It’s about whether or
not you see Sign Language as a language. Although the two are very
closely connected, because those who see Sign Language as a language
don’t see deafness as a disability. However, I think that if more
hearing people saw Sign Language as a language, then less hearing
people would see deafness as a disability.

Minority and indigenous language status would mean that Sign Language
would be officially recognised as a language by the hearing world. If
it is granted, I think it would forever eliminate one disability from
the West, if not the whole world. In this way, it would reduce
prejudice and increase rates of inclusive education and inclusion. As
a DisAbled person who has spent many years hoping for such things to
happen, I can’t think of anything better.

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