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EU: European Day of Languages, an area for “sign language” in the official website. 750 thousand deaf people in the EU

(Brussels) “It has been estimated that there are 750 thousand deaf people in the EU who use sign language. On average, deaf users of sign language make up about 0.1% of the entire population of a given country. This does not include people who learn sign language as a second language or children of deaf parents”. In the run-up to the European Day of Languages, which falls on 26th September, the EU and the Council of Europe have developed a specific website that provides basic notions about the multiple languages that are spoken and written in the Old Continent. A specific section is about “sign language”, now equated to any other European language. One can find out, for instance, that users of such mode of expression are 5 thousand in Finland, 100 thousand in France. The website http://edl.ecml.at/ – translated into 34 languages – says that not all users of sign language are deaf people. “Children of deaf parents often learn to speak sign language; used by their parents, it is their native language. In addition, the parents and siblings of deaf children learn sign language to ease communication”. Is there a universal sign language? “No, there isn’t. There are many different types – this is the explanation –, and there can be in fact multiple sign languages in a country, as it happens for spoken languages. For example, there are two sign languages in Belgium (French and Flemish) or in Spain (Spanish and Catalan sign languages)”.

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