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Recognizing national sign language rights to ensure the inclusion of deaf people from a linguistic minority perspective

1 December 2023 • 2:00 – 3:00 pm CET
Palais des Nations

The deaf community presents unique intersectionality between the disability community and those communities that identify as cultural and linguistic minorities. The Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes, recognized in 2019 that ‘those who use sign language can also constitute linguistic minorities as sign languages are completely different languages, with their own cultures’.

National sign languages are not only the preferred languages of deaf people. They are natural means to develop identity for deaf people and their sole means of communication and inclusion in all areas of society. As such, the linguistic rights of sign-language users are fundamental to the enjoyment of their other human rights, their inclusion in societies, and their participation.

Only 77 out of the 193 Member States of the United Nations have recognized national sign languages in their legislation.

The WFD and MRG are organising a side event at the 16th session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues to raise awareness of the need for the recognition of national sign languages as a key component of defending the linguistic rights of deaf people and their inclusion in societies.


Event details

Where? Room XXIII, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

When? Friday 1 December 2023, 2.00 to 3.00 pm CET

Registration: No registration needed.