The launch of a consultation on a new sign language framework by Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has been welcomed by East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden.
MLA Sugden said : “I welcome the Minister’s announcement that she will publish and consult on a sign language framework including proposals for legislation. Currently there is no Executive Policy for this.
This consultation has been a long time coming. I am pleased that it will lead to much needed protective legislation but I am disappointed that this has not happened before the end of the Mandate.
Communication is vital to us all in our everyday lives yet we often take it for granted. Sign language is a language in its own right. It is a way of including some of the most marginalised people in our society. There are members of our deaf community who find everyday activities a challenge; sign language is their way of expressing themselves to their friends and families.
Recently, I have become very aware of the needs of the deaf community and those who are heard of hearing, through working with Hands That Talk in Dungiven. They are an incredible organisation who support those from across the community who have this disability. Their awareness courses, trips, events and services are all made possible through a team of dedicated volunteers.
A new framework for sign language affirms the importance of their work. It is my hope that protective legislation will give greater recognition to organisations like Hands that Talk, and to the needs of our deaf community.”