Sign language

Sign language becomes official

Italy has finally recognized sign language as the official one for deaf people. While the country is the last European one to pass this measure, May 2021 is better than never. The new law also includes the protection and promotion of sign language. 

Plus, the law includes the tactile sign language, the communication form for people who are both blind and deaf. Both languages will become accessible, with dedicated services and their integration in the public administration’s offices. Also, personal development and education, to make people like they are not alone. 

An achievement not only for the deaf community

Without a doubt, this is a step forward in Italy. Although it took decades to achieve this. In fact, ONU released the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. Its goals include the guarantee of full equality, access to justice, and accessibility.

So, deaf people need support, to be able to live independently. Hence, access to transportation, facilities, and services that the rest of the population enjoys.  

Sign language to promote equality

Since the Italian Constitution promotes equality, there is nothing more equal than recognizing two sign languages. Needless to say, the activists and organizations are happy. Like Giuseppe Petrucci, the President of the Ente Nazionale Sordi, the country’s institution for the deaf.

“It’s a historic day for all of us,” Petrucci said on the website, “after a long fight, disappointments, campaigns, sit-ins, conferences, projects, and protests, we have finally achieved this important result. It is a win, after this difficult pandemic period, which emphasized the discriminations against deaf people. This is an important conquest for the whole country.” 

The situation in Italy  

In the country, deafness is recognized as a disability. With this status, also comes financial help and free medical care -only for specific visits and prescriptions. To get these benefits, the person has to provide documentation and undergo more visits. After, the person might be eligible for a government’s monthly check of about euro 250, or about $300. 

And not everyone is entitled to the check. The Italian community of deaf people counts 7 million Italians. It’s a condition that worsens with age, since 50% of the over 80 are deaf. While for Italians between 13 and 45, the percentage drops to 10. In six years (2012-2018), the deaf community rose by 4,8%. Deafness rises especially for people who are exposed to environmental risks, by 9,8%. 

But, how many Italians are born deaf? The estimate is one in every 1000 children is born deaf. In 2010, over 3% of the students had a hearing deficit. So, it’s not an uncommon condition. 

However, it’s an invisible one. Facilities can rarely accommodate these needs and finding an interpreter of sign language can be difficult -both in public offices and outside. People wait for interpreters, just like Italy waited to approve the law. 

Indeed, Italy waited until 2021 to do something for its community. It waited for decades to see these people. While the government stood by, the world of sports acted. It’s the story of the Federazione Sport Sordi Italia, the Italian Deaf Sports Federation. 

But there is more good news coming from Italy. Do you want to find out more? Read about the country’s tampon tax.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top