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How To Learn Sign Language

NAD Letter to 21st International Congress on Education of the Deaf


On behalf of the Board of Directors of the
National Association of the Deaf (NAD) I wish to convey our respectful request that the
21st International Congress on Education of the Deaf grant official recognition of and declare
the acquisition and use of sign language as a civil, human and linguistic right,
particularly in educational settings. Specifically, we request that the 21st Congress formally reject resolutions passed at the 2nd International Congress on
Education of the Deaf (2nd Congress) in Milan, Italy. These resolutions discouraged the use of sign
language in educational programs worldwide that
served deaf infants, children and
young adults, which also led to the decline of deaf educators, administrators, and
related professionals within these programs. We also respectfully request that the 21st Congress
issue a declaration calling upon all world nations to endorse and adhere to the principles of the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD), and related resolutions adopted by the World Federation
of the Deaf (WFD) at its 2007 World Congress in Madrid. These resolutions recognize the acquisition and use of sign
language as a human right within the global deaf community. Established in 1880, the mission of the
NAD is to preserve, protect and promote the civil, human and linguistic rights rights of deaf
or hard of hearing people in the United States of America. The vision of NAD is that every deaf or hard of hearing individual can and will participate fully in all aspects of society and life, without barriers. The NAD recognizes that those in attendance at this year’s 21st Congress were not involved in the resolutions passed at the 2nd Congress. Still, these resolutions sent a horrific
message to educators of the deaf worldwide and caused irreparable damage to the education,
advancement and full participation of deaf people in all aspects of what is now a globally interconnected society. We believe that the International Congress
on Education of the Deaf as a historical entity bears responsibility for its earlier resolutions, hence our request
that the 21st Congress set a new reference point for the future. In the spirit of reconciliation and collaborative efforts,
we ask the 21st Congress to do the right thing by creating a new mark on the world stage calling for the recognition of sign language as a fundamental human and linguistic right. The global deaf community deserves no less. By implementing this action on the world stage the
21st Congress will join individual nations worldwide that have taken a bold and positive step forward
to ensure the rights of the global deaf community in line with the CPRD, and demonstrating that the
International Congress on Education of the Deaf places value on the acquisition and use of
sign language in all settings, including education.

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