Deaf celebrate new Icelandic sign language law

The Icelandic parliament has passed a bill to increase the legal status of Icelandic sign language in society.

According to Visir.is, hearing impaired people filled the Althingi public gallery and followed the vote closely.

The Icelandic Deaf Society has battled for over 20 years to legally enshrine the position of Icelandic sign language in relation to the spoken Icelandic language; and that struggle finally bore fruit yesterday.

The change to the law now means that Icelandic sign language can be people’s official registered first language, if they so choose.

Tears of joy were shed in the public gallery when MPs passed the bill unanimously; underscoring how important the equalising law is to deaf people in Iceland.

The common impression is that the legal recognition of Icelandic sign language is also the legal recognition and endorsement of the Icelandic deaf community as a whole.

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