A bill introduced to parliament would formally establish Icelandic sign language as the mother language of the hearing impaired.
RÚV reports that the measure is part of a greater bill on the Icelandic language, an article of which states that Icelandic sign language be recognised as the official language of the deaf and hard of hearing. The parliamentary discussion itself was held with a sign interpreter, and deaf citizens filled the parliamentary gallery. Many of those present had been fighting for decades to see this measure introduced.
Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir called the matter historic, saying, “Today is a big day for the rights’ struggle of the deaf. An important foundation for a truly just compensation for Iceland’s hearing impaired has been established. Congratulations.”
With the bill’s passage establishing sign language as a native language, children who are hearing impaired will have being taught sign in school protected legally, and will also help integrate sign language more thoroughly into the professional world.