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Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery

A letter from Dr Steven D. Emery, to the Parlamento Italiano:

I am writing to you to object in the strongest possible terms, your Parlamento attempts to classify Lingua dei Segni Italiana (LIS) i.e. Italian Sign Language, with Linguaggio Mimico Gesturale (LMG). I understand you will be debating this in your Parlamento on Tuesday 24th May, and I would ask you to reconsider and take notice of your responsibilities under the UN Convention of Rights of Disabled People, to which Italy is a signatory.

I write as a deaf person who uses sign language in his everyday life, and is an esteemed Doctor in the subject of the Politics, specialising in the Citizenship rights of deaf people. I have recently had my book published in this field - see here for my credentials: http://www.bris.ac.uk/deaf/english/about/staff/steve-emery/.

My understanding is that the proposal to use the term ‘Mimico gesurale’ would mean equating the use of language as mime and gestures, and the "Linguaggio" would essentially mean you are suggesting sign language is 'less than a language'. To do this your Parliament would be ignoring what esteemed linguists have researched and proven in 60 decades of careful, empirical and scientific studies, and would severely lower the status of the sign language. Any such move would have social, economic and educational implications on those who use LIS; and set the Deaf community back decades.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Italy and the EU has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This convention has an express mention of sign language (Articles 2, 9, 21, 24 and 30), which includes the duty to promote and recognise sign language plus the linguistic identity of the Deaf Community. Any legislative measures, such as the one being proposed, which goes against these Articles would see Italy, both as an international and EU state, falling to meeting the obligations it has promised it would follow.

The Convention also places an obligation on consultation with the group impacted, i.e. Italian Deaf Community. Your community has very strongly rejected the proposal before your Parlamento and I urge you in the strongest possible terms to suspend the process in order to give your legislature the time to undertake extensive consultations with your deaf citizens on this subject, as is your responsibility under the UN and EU Conventions.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Steven D. Emery
University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TN, United Kingdom.

If you want to help outside Italy, please sign this petition and let others know. It will be handed into the Italian Embassy on Wednesday. If you are able to get to London, details of the protest can be found in this post.

See also:
Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday
Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama
Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!
International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

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