It is has been way too long since I wrote an entry to this blog! My last entry was in early 2015, a submission to support the BSL Bill in Scotland, which eventually passed, and my latest entry is about developing and documenting Sign Bilingual best practice in schools.
The authors write: “everywhere in Europe the national sign language(s) play a role in schools”.
Verena Krausneker sent me this detail. She worked in collaboration with Claudia Becker, Darina Tarcsiova, Mireille Audeoud; it was a ERASMUS project, partnership with Austria, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland. The key is this tool which is interactive and enables you to see the status of sign language in schools in 39 countries of Europe: Just click on this link
At the top you can find a drop down link that will view the status of each country: e.g. where sign bilingualism is well established nationally, the percentage of hearing impaired pupils in mainstream schools, where sign language is a school subject, and so on.
An International Sign version of the study can be found in the link under the video, click on IS.
There’s some intriguing and interesting information. For example, currently in 80% of countries a sign language is available but is restricted mostly to ‘special schools’ and a few regions. Deaf teachers are obviously a key to developing bimodal bilingual education, but only 25% of the countries “provide necessary initial and continuing teacher training programmes.”
Crucially, it is the negative attitudes – i.e. the view that deafness is a deficit – that is a key barrier to bilingual education being adopted.
Finally, all materials and texts may be used for free and shared and can also be translated into more languages, so if you are interested, contact the project partners in the links I just gave.
The conclusion from the authors:
“Europe is well on its way to firmly establish sign bilingual education in schools. Demands and challenges are the same or very similar everywhere in Europe. Our project as well as good practice examples indicate clearly that international and national networks are especially helpful for the implementation and development of sign bilingual education.”