(What we don’t know about) Sign Languages in Higher Education in Europe: Mapping Policy and Practice to an analytical framework

Autor/a: LEESON, Lorraine; BOGAERDE, Beppie van den
Año: 2020
Editorial: Sociolinguistica, Vol. 34, nº 1 (2020)
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Educación, Traducción e Interpretación


This paper focuses on issues related to sign language policies in Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) in Europe. Drawing on the analytical framework proposed by Darquennes/Du Plessis/Soler (2020, i. e. this volume), which serves to address HEI language planning issues at macro, meso and micro levels, we carry out an inventory of how these issues play out for sign languages across Europe. Our investigation reveals the scarcity of information about sign language policies in HEIs, relating to both sign language as a language of instruction and as a subject of study. What becomes clear is that language planning activities (sign language acquisition, sign language status and corpus planning) are taking place in many countries but tend to go undocumented and unresearched. Given the increase in formal recognition of sign languages across Europe, coupled with the ratification of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) by all EU member states, it would seem logical to expect that the status and prestige of sign languages would rise, with greater visibility of, and planning for, incorporation of sign languages in HEIs. However, the reality of the situation is unclear, suggesting the need for coordinated effort, supported by key pan-European bodies like the Council of Europe, the European Centre for Modern Languages and the European Commission, to ensure that sign language policy is on the agenda as parts of a rights-based response to deaf communities and the sign languages of Europe. Equally important is the need for European HEIs to embrace sign languages and ensure that they are part of the linguistic landscape. This will support and promote the status planning of sign languages and open up access to HEIs for deaf communities, a group that remains under-represented in academia.