Excellent Press Release from Irish Deaf Society regarding Italian Parliament proposals

Thanks again to Alison, for passing on a copy of this excellent Press Release:

At the moment, the Italian government is discussing the enactment of
the Italian Sign Language (LIS) bill at the moment. However, a
proposal was made to rename the Italian Sign Language as the language
of mime and gesture (LMG), in effect reducing and demeaning the status
of Italian Sign Language. The Italian Deaf community is horrified by
this proposal and wants to protest against this proposal. It has asked
the global Deaf community to join the protests. Vigils have been
organised in front of Italian embassies in several cities including
Belfast, London, Edinburgh, Washington DC and Berlin.

Many Deaf Italian people are rallying in Italy to protest against this
proposal. Ms. Elena Radutzky will be speaking in front of the
legislature on Tuesday (24 May) and a rally is being organised in Rome
on Wednesday, May 25th.  About 40,000 people use Irish Sign language
here in Ireland and occurrences such as this one are a serious
ramification to our campaign to have Irish Sign Language (ISL) being
recognised as a full and official language. So we stand in solidarity
with the Italian Deaf community and the global Deaf community.

Below is an extract from Deaf man, Dr. John Bosco Conama’s letter to
the Italian ambassador to Ireland:

While if the proposal is carried out by your parliament, it can have
wider effects on nations outside Italy. Hence I pen this letter to
express my strong concern at this proposal and share concerns with the
Italian Deaf community. The proposal is clearly a serious counter to
years of research, which confirm that signed languages such as LIS are
the genuine languages as spoken languages. The proposal can have
unimagined negative effects on the well being of current and future
generations of the Italian Deaf community.

The status of the community is frequently determined by the societal
and political attitude towards their language. Degrading LIS would
bring negative effects on the Italian Deaf community. Should a
proposal be adopted, it would be seen as a negative reaction to the
successful conclusion of UN’s convention on rights for disabled people
which contains clauses recognising the rights of Deaf people to use
their signed languages. (Note: ironically Italy has ratified this

Your country holds an unenviable position where the infamous congress
on Deaf education was held in Milan in 1880 and resolutions were
passed at this congress calling for the regression of signed
languages. These effects of these resolutions are still felt worldwide
and this congress is a constant theme in Deaf and cultural studies
worldwide. Surely, your country does not want to add on another
notoriety to this unenviable position.

Irish Deaf Society
30 Blessington Street,
Dublin 7.


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