Complementary or diametrically opposed: Situating Deaf Communities within ‘disability’ vs ‘cultural and linguistic minority’ constructs: position paper

Autor/a: World Federation of the Deaf WFD
Año: 2018
Editorial: WFD, 2018
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Comunidad y cultura sorda, Comunidad y cultura sorda » Movimiento asociativo, Lingüística


Deaf people consider themselves as a linguistic and cultural group, with highly complex natural languages but the rights of deaf people are however assured through disability policy, legislation and international instruments. Deaf identity is not a monolithic entity and a person can also have other identities relating to gender, race, disability, socioeconomic status.

Deaf communities around the world have long considered themselves as linguistic and cultural groups, and are characterised by a great diversity of national and regional sign languages around the world. Sign languages are natural, highly complex natural languages with full expressive capacity, with their own grammar, lexicon, humour and associated performance forms. Yet the rights of deaf people around the world are largely assured through disability policy, legislation and international instruments, as distinct from legislation and international instruments that recognise the linguistic and cultural status of deaf people. This can lead to a misunderstanding of the actual situation of deaf communities around the world, and this position paper attempts to review the issues involved, by looking through the linguistic minority as well as the disability lenses. It has been the experience of many deaf people around the world that sign languages have been seen as inferior to spoken languages, and deaf people are seen through the medical and deficit model. Sign languages have even been proscribed in some places around the world. What sort of legislation will protect the linguistic rights of deaf people and their sign languages around the world?