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Brussels Declaration on behalf of one million European deaf people

Brussels Declaration on behalf of one million European deaf people

2010. 11. 20.

MEP László Tőkés, Vice-¬President of the European Parliament conveyed a welcoming video message using sign language in which he wished a lot of success for the participants and the initiative. The opening presentation was held by Viviane Reding, Vice-¬President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “The timing of this event is also very fortunate as it comes only days after the launch of our new European Disability Strategy, which renews for the next decade the EU’s commitment to improve the situation of people with disabilities and build a barrier-free Europe for all”, said the Vice-President. She closed her thoughts with stating that “European languages are an essential part of the Europe’s unique cultural richness. Sign languages are an important part of this ancient and precious European mosaic, and we want to recognize this.”

The Brussels Declaration, as a conclusion of the conference, was adopted by MEP Ádám Kósa with representatives of the National Associations of the Deaf of the EU Member States and it’s associate members – Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland; the European Union of the Deaf; the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters; the World Federation of the Deaf and the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters. “The treaties and principles of the European Union and the regulations laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights make us – deaf and hard of hearing sign language users – equal citizens of the European Union, with the right to free movement.”, stresses the text. This landmark document declares that the national sign languages of the Member States are the native languages of sign language users and it has long been secured by research that sign languages are fully-fledged languages. They serve all practical and theoretical purposes of a natural language, including age appropriate language acquisition of infants and children. The document also underlines the importance of minimum standards for services and requirements around in Europe for ensuring the real free movement of the deaf and hard of hearing with availability of sign language interpreters with special regard to new, cheaper IT tools.
 
The key speakers were Berglind Stefánsdóttir, President of the European Union of the Deaf, Markku Jokinen, President of the World Federation of the Deaf, Maya de Wit,  President of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters, Liz Scott Gibson, President of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters as well as  Ildikó Bernáth, Ministerial commissioner for Disability Affairs of the Hungarian Government.

For further information:
Ádám Kósa MEP, Tel: +32-228-47208
Miklós Panyi, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-473-866137