A study makes concrete recommendations to improve the rights of deaf people and the status of sign language

As the Presidency of the Ministerial Committee of the Council of Europe, Finland organised a side event on sign language in Strasbourg, France, on 10 April. The side event was organised in connection with the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to publish a study on the rights of deaf people in the Council of Europe and its Member States.

Eeva Tupi presented her study to diplomats and parliamentarians at the main building of the Council of Europe. Picture: Merja Lahtinen

The presentation of the study was followed by a discussion on the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people with Eeva Tupi and Signmark, a Finnish rap artist who performed at session hall of the Parliamentary Assembly before the start of the event. After that, Tupi presented her study to the Committee on Equality of PACE, which had invited her to be heard.

In the concluding remarks of the study, Tupi says that she is the first deaf sign language user in Finland to have graduated with a Master of Laws degree. According to her, everyone should have the same opportunities to use sign language freely and achieve their dreams using sign language; “sign language is a right”.

Signmark spread his positive energy while performing at the session hall of the Parliamentary Assembly. Picture: Merja Lahtinen

Tupi’s study gives an overview of the status of sign language and the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the Council of Europe and its 47 Member States. The study discusses Member States’ practices and challenges, and the viewpoints of national associations.

In addition, Tupi’s study provides concrete recommendations for promoting the status of deaf and hard of hearing people in the Council of Europe and its Member States.

One of the aims of the recommendations is to look at the subject matter from a broader perspective so that instead of seeing sign languages only as a disability they would be understood as an expression of multilingualism or minority language in a linguistic context. The study supports the implementation of the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people and the use of sign language. Examples of Tupi’s ten recommendations include the use of appropriate terminology, multilingualism, publications in sign languages, and sign language interpreting costs in budgets. 

In the discussion event, Tupi reminded the audience that when talking about sign languages, the first concern should be appropriate terminology and avoidance of degrading language and expressions. Sign languages should be seen as part of a multilingual Europe.

Eeva Tupi's study ”Sign language rights in the framework of the Council of Europe and its member States (pdf, 398 kb, 53 pages)