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The Impact of Legal Recognition of Sign Languages on Sign Language Users and Deaf Communities

Project description

The rights of sign language users

Only 41 countries have recognised sign languages (SLs) as an official language. The EU-funded LRSL project will investigate whether the legal recognition of SLs provides deaf communities and SL users with realisable and enforceable rights. It will apply a socio-legal method to investigate the laws and experiences of SL recognition in Finland, Ireland and the United Kingdom. LRSL will conduct semi-structured interviews with representatives from deaf organisations to study the impact of SL legal recognition on deaf communities. The project will combine legal and quantitative research to understand the necessary steps to implement meaningful and effective rights for the deaf and provide a roadmap for future efforts of SL legal recognition.


The Legal Recognition of Sign Languages project (LRSL) aims to interrogate whether legal recognition of Sign Languages (SLs) actually provides Deaf people and SL users with realisable and enforceable rights. Using a socio-legal approach, LRSL investigates both the laws and the experiences of SL recognition in three European jurisdictions: Finland; Ireland and the United Kingdom. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with Deaf representatives from Deaf Organisations to investigate how legal recognition is actually impacting Deaf people and Deaf Communities. In combining legal research and qualitative research, LRSL will provide an understanding of the necessary steps for implementation of rights that are meaningful and effective for Deaf people and SL users. LRSL will provide valuable insight into effective and ineffective mechanisms used to give agency and rights to Deaf Communities over their languages and culture. The research will provide unique and vital analysis and understanding of best-practices for the implementation of legal recognition of SLs, or the amendment of pre-existing legal recognition. LRSL will provide a roadmap for future efforts to recognise SLs in law within other jurisdictions. This roadmap will be made available to Deaf people and Organisations, activist groups, policymakers and legislators to aid in the implementation or amendment of legal recognition for SLs.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
B15 2TT Birmingham
United Kingdom

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West Midlands (England) West Midlands Birmingham
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 212 933,76