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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.


European Commission resources


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Sign languages

Sign languages are an important part of Europe’s multilingual diversity. Based on gesture, they are as rich as spoken languages in terms of grammar, structure, syntax, and lexicon. Broadly speaking, each spoken language in the European Union (EU) has a counterpart sign language.

Available in 24 languages.

Go to the European Commission page

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European Union of the Deaf

European Union of the Deaf is a not-profit European non-Governmental organisation comprising National Associations of the Deaf (NADs). It is the only supranational organisation representing Deaf people at European level and is one of the few ENGOs representing associations in all 28 EU Member States, including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Aiming to establish and maintain EU level dialogue with the European Union institutions and officials in consultation and co-operation with its member NADs, it also has participatory status with the Council of Europe.

Available in English.

Go to the organization's page

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Sign Language Legislation in the European Union

The book “Sign Language Legislation in Europe” is the first comprehensive study of laws relating to sign language. It covers all legislation in the European Union that mentions sign language.

Available in English.

View the publication page

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Other resources


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The EuroSign Interpreter Project

The EuroSign Interpreter project fits into a pan-European process of recognition of national sign languages as minority languages. The aim of this project is to develop resources to teach sign language to sign language interpreting and the finished module will be made available online. It is also a singular module (opposed to an award bearing programme) that will allow other Universities and training centres to incorporate it into their current interpreting programmes.

Available in English and Polish.

Go to the project page

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SignSpeak

SignSpeak is an innovative initiative to improve communication between the signer and hearing communities through vision-based sign-language interpretation technology.

Available in English, French, German, Dutch and Castilian.

Go to the project page

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Medisigns

Produced as part of the MEDISIGNS project, this research-based documentary explores issues of access to healthcare by the deaf community and the obstacles they encounter from healthcare professionals arising from their lack of understanding of deaf cultures, signed languages and working with sign language interpreters.

Available in English, Swedish, Greek and Polish.

Go to the project page

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Justisigns

This project represents a ground-breaking initiative focusing on identifying competencies for sign language interpreting in legal settings and providing training for both qualified and qualifying signed language interpreters in this domain. In JUSTISIGNS, legal settings is referred to in a generic context referring to the court room, interactions with solicitors, barristers and lawyers and also interactions of deaf people with the national police services.

Available in English.

Go to the project page

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World Federation of the Deaf

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is an international non-governmental organisation representing approximately 70 million Deaf people worldwide. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of these 70 million live in developing countries, where authorities are rarely familiar with their needs or desires.

Available in English.

Go to the organisation page

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Sign Languages ‒ Brentari, D. 2010. (ed.)

This thematic and geographic overview examines more than forty sign languages from around the world. It begins by investigating how sign languages have survived and been transmitted for generations, and then goes on to analyse the common characteristics shared by most sign languages: for example, how the use of the visual system affects grammatical structures. The final section describes the phenomena of language variation and change. Drawing on a wide range of examples, the book explores sign languages both old and young, from British, Italian, Asian and American to Israeli, Al-Sayyid Bedouin, African and Nicaraguan. Written in a clear, readable style, it is the essential reference for students and scholars working in sign language studies and deaf studies.

Available in English.

Go to the publication page

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