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(DF) Bulgaria Adopts Law Recognizing Sign Language as Language in Its Own Right

January 21 (BTA) – Parliament adopted a law that recognizes the Bulgarian sign language as a language in its own right. Proposed by the government, the law was adopted conclusively on Thursday to make what many consider a breakthrough in deaf people’s rights. According to the new law, deaf people in Bulgaria are entitled to free translation services, the cultural and language identity of their community is recognized and an attitude of respect to them will be encouraged in the broader community. The activities following from the adoption of the law will be financed by the national budget through the Labour and Social Policy Ministry, other competent institutions and medical establishments, as well as through European and international programmes. The leaders of central and local administrative units will have until the end of 2022 to roll out administrative services for deaf people. The kindergartens and schools that teach children with impaired hearing and deaf children, will have special sign language classes. Deaf students in regular schools will have the right to use sign language when they are examined or being tested. The parents of deaf children will be entitled to sign language training. Sign language teachers will have a master’s degree in Bulgarian Language and Literature with additional training in sign language, and universities will be required to provide such training. Deaf university students will be entitled to 60 hours of free sign-language translation per semester. Sign language translator will be a job in its own right and translators will be trained in master’s programmes and certified by established standards on a par with all other professionals. A Sign Language Board of 13 members will be established under the Education Minister to work on the development of the Bulgarian sign language. Television operators will be required to provide sign-language translation of their news programmes and programmes with such translation will be aired at least once daily in the 19:00-22:00 hrs time slot. RY/LN/ //