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    Council of Europe resources

Sign languages

In most European countries, sign languages are not used as languages of instruction. Work has been undertaken at the ECML to establish European standards for specifying proficiency levels for use in Deaf Studies so that teachers of sign languages, and in particular the profession of interpreters, can better respond to the needs of the community they serve.

Council of Europe Resources
Other Resources

Resources of the ECML

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Sign languages and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Descriptors and approaches to assessment

This resource establishes European standards for sign languages for professional purposes in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and provides an overview of assessment descriptors and approaches.

Available in English, Czech, Estonian, German, Icelandic, Slovenian and in sign language

Go to the publication page


European Day of Languages Resources

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Facts on sign languages - European Day of Languages

Read some interesting facts about sign language.

Available in 28 languages.

Go to the facts page

Sign language game - European Day of Languages

Do you know the European country names in international sign language?

Available in English and French.

Try the game!


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Council of Europe Disability Action Plan: Sign language

The Council of Europe adopted in 2006 a recommendation on an Action plan to promote the rights and full participation of people with disabilities in society. The action plan is the result of a political commitment undertaken by several European countries in 2003, European Year of People with Disabilities. Since the beginning of this process, the European Disability forum has actively been involved in the drafting of the plan. The action plan is comprehensive and addresses all areas of life of persons with disabilities.

The status of sign languages in Europe

There are an estimated one million deaf people in the member states of the Council of Europe. The present report, based on information provided by member states' governments and by NGOs, gives an overview of the recognition of sign languages in twenty-six European states. It also summarises policies and programmes which have been developed by member states to ensure sign language users access to their political, social and cultural rights.

Available in English.

Download the publication

Report on the protection and promotion of sign languages

This paper describes the needs of sign language users in Europe and offers practical and concrete recommendations which aim to grant this linguistic minority full access to and participation in society based on equal rights.

Available in English and French.

Download the publication