Canadian Government Considers Giving Sign Languages Official Status

The Canadian government is currently evaluating plans to give official status to sign languages. The article linked below unfortunately consistently uses the term “sign language,” in the singular, when in fact it is referring to many sign languages. There are two common sign languages in Canada: American Sign Language and Quebec Sign Language, which mirror the divide between English and French in Canada. There are several more that are less common: Maritime Sign Language, Inuiuuk, and Plains Sign Talk. Inuiuuk and Plains Sign Talk are indigenous sign languages.

In the past, sign languages were discouraged or banned in schools. The legislation the government is working on would be a dramatic reversal of this approach. It would require the federal government to provide documents in sign language. Because the article does pluralize or specify when it uses the term “sign language,” it is unclear how many of the Canadian sign languages will be required in this way.

Canadian disabilities minister Carla Qualtrough suggests that the law should have a provision to allow the federal government to crack down on violations. Currently, the Canadian federal government does not intervene in human rights issues until “someone complains,” as the article puts it. However, the Qualtrough says that the process of filing a complaint is actually quite difficult and resource intensive, and therefore the government should be able to enforce the law without prompting from people affected. LS

Link to the original article



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