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The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992) defines ““regional or minority languages” as:
There is no specific mentioning of sign languages in the Charter, nor are there any sign languages covered by State Parties. See the full list of covered languages here
In 2003, the PACE recognised sign languages in their Recommendation 1598 (2003): Protection of sign languages in the member states of the Council of Europe. There, the PACE recognises sign languages “as the expression of Europe’s cultural wealth. They are a feature of Europe’s linguistic and cultural heritage” and the PACE recognises them as “a complete and natural means of communication for deaf people.”
For education, they recommend and encourage member states:
On June 17, 1988, the European Parliament signed the Resolution on Sign Languages 1988 and the Resolution on Sign Languages 1998 ten years later which both called for the recognition, improvement and support of sign languages.
The Resolution on Sign Languages 1988 states that a “sign language, which can be properly be regarded as a language in its own right, is the preferred or only language of most deaf people” and calls “upon the Member States to abolish any remaining obstacles to the use of sign language.”
The Resolution on Sign Languages of 1998 reinforces the resolution of 1988, and for education calls “to ensure EU funding programmes in the field of education and employment training include training of sign language tutors and interpreters”
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) is the first international human rights convention that explicitly considers sign languages to be languages (Article 21)1).
The Convention covers Education in Article 24, in which State Parties – amongst others – ensure that:
And take appropriate measures to:
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