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Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society: Vigil at the Italian Embassy, Dublin

A Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society, relating to the vigil at the Italian Embassy in Dublin on 25 May 2005:

At the moment, the Italian government is discussing the enactment of the Italian Sign Language (LIS) bill at the moment. However, a proposal was made to rename the Italian Sign Language as the language of mime and gesture (LMG), in effect reducing and demeaning the status of Italian Sign Language. The Italian Deaf community is horrified by this proposal and wants to protest against this proposal. It has asked the global Deaf community to join the protests. Vigils have been organised in front of Italian embassies in several cities including Belfast, London, Edinburgh, Washington DC and Berlin.

Many Deaf Italian people are rallying in Italy to protest against this proposal. Ms. Elena Radutzky will be speaking in front of the legislature on Tuesday (24 May) and a rally is being organised in Rome on Wednesday, May 25th. About 40,000 people use Irish Sign language
here in Ireland and occurrences such as this one are a serious ramification to our campaign to have Irish Sign Language (ISL) being recognised as a full and official language. So we stand in solidarity with the Italian Deaf community and the global Deaf community.

Below is an extract from Deaf man, Dr. John Bosco Conama’s letter to the Italian ambassador to Ireland:

While if the proposal is carried out by your parliament, it can have wider effects on nations outside Italy. Hence I pen this letter to express my strong concern at this proposal and share concerns with the Italian Deaf community. The proposal is clearly a serious counter to years of research, which confirm that signed languages such as LIS are the genuine languages as spoken languages. The proposal can have unimagined negative effects on the well being of current and future generations of the Italian Deaf community.

The status of the community is frequently determined by the societal and political attitude towards their language. Degrading LIS would bring negative effects on the Italian Deaf community. Should a proposal be adopted, it would be seen as a negative reaction to the
successful conclusion of UN’s convention on rights for disabled people which contains clauses recognising the rights of Deaf people to use their signed languages. (Note: ironically Italy has ratified this convention).

Your country holds an unenviable position where the infamous congress on Deaf education was held in Milan in 1880 and resolutions were passed at this congress calling for the regression of signed languages. These effects of these resolutions are still felt worldwide and this congress is a constant theme in Deaf and cultural studies worldwide. Surely, your country does not want to add on another notoriety to this unenviable position.

Irish Deaf Society
30 Blessington Street,
Dublin 7.

See also:
Note from Terry Riley, Chair BDA to those Protesting
Press Release from the Belfast Protest in Support of the Italian Deaf Community
Italian Embassy Events on Wednesday 25 May 2011
How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery
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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