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Sign language and Braille in school

Article publié le Monday 27 August 2012.

Austria There is no right for deaf or hearing impaired children to learn sign language, either in mainstream or in special schools. The curriculum for special schools for deaf or hearing impaired children, which applies to children in mainstream as well as in special schools, still emphasizes the importance of oral language ; sign language is just considered an option or therapeutic exercise. There is a special curriculum for special schools for blind children that applies to children in mainstream as well as in special schools. Braille and the use of technical aids are compulsory at all school levels. 
Lien : Curriculum for special schools for deaf children 
Additional links : Curriculum for special schools for blind children http://www.cisonline.at/fileadmin/k...
Belgium The Flemish Ministry of Education and Training supports pupils and students in mainstream adult education through support in the provision of special education means. These include Flemish sign language interpreters and writing interpreters, translation in braille and large printing, dyslexia software and digitalisation of textbooks. The French speaking Community acknowledges sign language for the regular and special education in the French speaking part of Belgium as an official language in the Decree of October 22, 2003. Therefore the regional governments support and subside but do not mandate the provision of sign language and Braille in schools. 
Lien : Flemish Decree concerning equal chances in education (June 28, 2002) 
Additional links : French speaking community and the Walloon Region 
Decree of the French speaking Community concerning the acknowledgement of sign language 
Bulgaria There is no reference to learning Braille or sign language in mainstream schools and no special provision to this end. Braille and sign language are subjects of teaching in special schools only.
Cyprus Children have the right to learn Braille or sign language in mainstream schools. Children can also learn Braille or sign language in the School for the Blind or in the School for the Deaf. There is no specific legislation to safeguard this. However, the Regulations for the Education of Children with Special Needs Act of 1999 (Κ.Δ.Π. 186/2001) ensure that disabled children are examined in ways that respect their communication needs (e.g. change a written test into Braille language). 
Lien : Regulations for the Education of Children with Special Needs Act of 1999 (Κ.Δ.Π. 186/2001) 
Czech Republic The law on sign language, passed in 1998, confirmed its importance for the education of pre-lingual deaf people and opened the way for the provision of interpreting services for deaf pupils ; Section 7 gives deaf and deaf-blind pupils the rights to learn and be taught in sign language. Czech sign language has been codified by the 2008 amendment of the law as the natural communication system for the deaf. The amendment also establishes other communication systems for the deaf and for those suffering from deaf blindness. 
Lien : Communication systems for the Deaf and Deaf-blind Act No. 384/2008 Coll. 
Denmark There is no right to learn sign language or Braille in schools, but all pupils that need it are given the opportunity. The Executive Order No. 1375, 15/12/2005 on public school education in sign language determines the subject’s purpose and context and all students in pre-school, primary school and 10th class that, even with use of technical aids, have great difficulties in obtaining secure communication using speech are offered instruction in sign language. Teaching can take place in ordinary schools, special schools or in regional training opportunities. Teaching is a supplement to the public school subjects. Regional vision consultants and a special school for blind children, Refsnćsskolen in Kalundborg, take care of all blind children receiving instruction in Braille. 
Lien : Executive Order No. 1375, 15/12/2005. 
Additional links : Danish blind society 
Estonia The Language Act (Section1(3)), amended in 2007, gave the Estonian sign language official national status. It states that Estonian sign language is an independent language and a form of Estonian ; the state shall (based on subsection 4) enhance the use and development of Estonian, Estonian sign language and Estonian signed language. The number of people using sign language in Estonia is approximately 2000 and these people may be considered the core of the deaf community. The community of people using sign language in Estonia in addition to sign-language deaf people also includes their children who are not deaf, but whose mother tongue it often is and also some of those who are hard of hearing (the term ’deaf’ is used in a linguistic-cultural sense and not in an audiological sense). Thus the concept includes users of sign language of varying hearing status. The total number of regular users of sign language in Estonia has been estimated in 2002 to be about 45,000. According to the Basic and Upper Secondary School Act (Section 30), schools have to enable access to studies for students with special needs, among them with the need for using sign language and relevant technologies. According to the Education Act Section 10, local governments have to organise the conditions for studies of pupils with special needs. 
The Ministry of Education and Research provides the means, modes and formats of communication that are necessary for studies (e.g. sign language, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication etc.). 
Additionally in 2011 the Development Plan of Estonian Language for 2011-2017 was adopted by the government and in the Action Plan activity no.10 is stated as the development of sign language. Among other actions it foresees development of school curricula in Estonian sign language and the education of sign language translators. 
Lien : Language Act 
Additional links : 
Education Act 
Basic and Upper Secondary Schools Act 
Development Plan of Estonian Language 
Action Plan for development of Estonian language for 2011-2017 
Finland Deaf and deaf-blind persons have the right to education in sign-language. This kind of teaching is organised in special classes or units of mainstream schools (see Act on basic education). Special attention is focused on culturally sensitive instruction. In an Action Programme on Disability Policy sign language is awarded the status of a mother tongue for the instruction of those who are deaf or deaf- blind. Furthermore, the reading difficulties of persons with severe multiple disabilities in all age groups and the individual life situations should be taken into account in the design of the education. 
Lien : An Action Programme on Disability Policy - Education 
Additional links : Act on basic education (see especially § 10 (teaching language) : 
France In article 75, the Lawn° 2005-102 of 11 February 2005 introduces Article L 312-9-1 to the Code of Education in order to officially recognise the French sign language for persons with impaired hearing. 
Lien : Article L 312-9-1 Code of Education 
Germany There is no legislation or regulation about the use of Braille or sign language in mainstream schools. In 2010 a court verdict obliged public administration to finance sign language interpretation for a deaf child who wanted to visit a mainstream school. The interpretation service is financed through the “Integration Support for Disabled People” [Eingliederungshilfe für behinderte Menschen] as part of the social assistance law regulated in the Social Code Book XII [Sozialgesetzbuch XII]. 
Lien : Judgement of the Social Court of Frankfurt to take over the cost of a sign language interpreter in mainstream schools 
Greece Disabled pupils in mainstream education are required to follow the mainstream curriculum, which does not include teaching of Braille or sign language. However, besides parallel support in a mainstream class, there is also the option of attending inclusion classes running as part of a school unit (not always available), where pupils can follow a more personalised educational programme according to their needs (Law 3699/2008). 
Lien : Law 3699/2008 Special Education and Education of people with disabilities or special educational needs 
Hungary The right to use Braille in schools has not been regulated.
Ireland The key focus of the Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN) is the right to an appropriate education in an inclusive setting wherever possible. Under the Equal Status Act 2000-2004, if an educational establishment does not do all that is reasonable to accommodate a student with a disability, this will amount to discrimination. However, the educational establishment will not have to provide that accommodation if it gives rise to more than a ’nominal cost’. The provision of sign language and Braille will typically breach this threshold. The State has a constitutional obligation to provide for free primary education, which must be appropriate for the child’s needs. However, this has been interpreted restrictively in O’Carolan v The Minister for Education, and the subsequent test is not as to whether the child is receiving ‘the best possible’ education but merely whether the current educational provision for the child is appropriate. To date, there has been no case-law regarding the right to learn Braille or sign-language in mainstream schools in Ireland. 
Lien : Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 
Additional links : Equal Status Act, 2000 : 
Equality Act 2004 : 
Italy We do not yet have information for this item
Latvia According to the Law on General Education (1999) and relevant regulations, deaf and blind students have rights to practical assistance (sign language interpretation, Braille, etc.) in mainstream schools. 
Lien : The Law on General Education 
Lithuania Free services by teacher assistant, reader, guide and sign language interpreter shall be rendered to persons with special needs at educational institutions according to the procedure established by the Government or an institution authorised by it. (Law VIII-969 of 15 December 1998). 
Lien : Law on Special Education of 15 December 1998 
Luxembourg Braille (Eight-dot Braille) is taught by the DVI (Institut pour Déficients Visuels - Institute for blind and vision disabled children) in Luxembourg. This institution was founded in 1975 to support children with visual impairment in mainstream schools and adults in vocational training. Sign language can be acquired at Daaflux, (Hearing Impaired, Luxembourg), see also the Speech Therapy Centre. According to the Accommodation Act (2011) in mainstream schools educational tests or exams have to be adapted and if necessary be transcripted in Braille (embossed printing). 
Lien : Visually Impaired Luxembourg 
Additional links : Hearing Impaired Luxembourg 
Speech Therapy Centre 
Malta While disabled children do have the right to learn sign language and Braille, it is not part of the curriculum as there are too few sign language or Braille teachers to cater for the whole school population.
Netherlands In 1990 all schools and institutions for the Deaf decided to teach bilingually : both Dutch language and Dutch Sign language. Students who are deaf are entitled to a sign language interpreter when they attend a regular school. Students who are blind are taught Braille. Blind students in regular or special schools for the blind receive a wide range of technical support such as a Braille reader to read computer documents or a daisy reader and daisy spoken books. Extra personal assistance can be granted in school or workplace (for up to 10% of work time) to provide extra support. Provisions for support in schools are provided based on the Act on Reintegration of Labour-disabled 2005 (Wet Werk en Inkomen naar Arbeidsvermogen). 
Lien : Dutch Foundation for Sign language 
Additional links : Act on Reintegration of Labour-disabled 
Poland Poland adopted the Act of 19 August 2011 on sign language and other means of communication (Journal of Law 2011, No. 209, item 1243), which is fully effective from 1 April 2012. However, this legislation does not refer to the education system. The Ministry of Education provides funds for adapting school textbooks and other texts in Braille. The books are published on the official website of the Ministry and may be printed at schools in accordance with pupils’ needs. Moreover, every year, the Ministry finances are aimed at providing pupils with visual disabilities access to children’s magazines. For external assessment, which has been gradually introduced in Poland since 2002, there are test papers in Braille for blind pupils. 
Lien : Act of 19 August 2011 on sign language and other means of communication 
Additional links : Tasks undertaken in 2010 for implementation of the Charter of Rights for Persons with Disability 
Portugal According to Decree-Law 3/2008, children have the opportunity to learn Braille and sign language from pre-school to the end of compulsory education in specially designated mainstream schools ; so-called ’reference schools’ for deaf and/or blind or low vision students. ’Reference schools’ are public mainstream schools, attended by regular students, but which differ from other schools in the sense that they concentrate human and technical resources for the bilingual education of deaf students and the education of blind/low vision students (Art.18). Deaf and blind/low vision students thus attend the closest reference school, whether or not it is located in their neighbourhood (Art. 19). 
Lien : Decree-Law of Inclusive Education 
Romania Sign language is used in all special schools for children with hearing impairments. Recently, a specific programme of training for teachers was developed in Cluj (2010-2013), with the support of European Structural Funds, for the general use of sign language in schools. Braille is used in all special schools for children with sight impairments. Sign language and Braille are not yet used on a large scale in mainstream schools. The new Law on Education (no.1/2011) mentions that all pupils with disabilities should benefit from adequate support for inclusion in mainstream schools and that these support measures should be coordinated by the local Resource Centres for Educational Activities (Centrul Judetean de Resurse pentru Activitatea Educationala/ Centrul de Resurse al Municipiului Bucuresti) (Articles 50 and 51 of the Law 1/2011). The methodological norms for the organisation and functioning of these Resource Centres have been released on October 7 2011. Pupils with sensory disabilities benefit as well from exam facilities (interpreters, adjustment of examination times etc.) in all cycles of education, allowing them to pass the general examinations while using Braille or sign language. 
Lien : Law on Education no 1/2011 
Additional links : Regulation for the Organisation and Functioning of the County Resource Centres for Educational Assistance 
Slovakia The rights of deaf children/students to study by using sign language are constituted in section 4, Act 149/1995 Coll. on sign language for deaf persons. The details of how to implement these rights are explained in Act 245/2008 Coll. on Education (School Act ; Zákon o výchove a vzdelávaní/Školský zákon). According to section 144 of the Act ‘a child/pupil with special educational needs has a right to education by utilising specific forms and methods corresponding to his/her needs and for creating necessary conditions which are essential for the child/pupil’s education... he/she has the right to the use of special textbooks and special didactic and compensational aids...’ (e.g. sign language, Braille, alternative means of communication). In order to support the study of young persons with sensory impairments at university the Supportive centre for visually disabled students (Podporné centrum pre zrakovo postihnutých študentov) was set up in 1993. Since 2009 the Centre has been operating as the Centre of Support for Students with Special Needs ; extending its support services to students with visual and hearing impairments, and students with mobility problems. The Memorandum of the Slovak Republic government (2010), in the section on Primary and secondary education, raised an ambition ‘... to initiate a public discussion about sign language codification and to extend supportive services for disabled persons’. 
Lien : The School Act (Zákon o výchove a vzdelávaní /Školský zákon) 
Additional links : Act No. 149/1995 Coll. on sign language for deaf persons (Zákon o posunkovej reči nepočujúcich osôb) 
Slovenia Article 4 of the Regulations on additional professional and physical help for the children and youth with special needs states that blind and visually impaired children and deaf and hearing impaired children may get up to 5 hours of additional expert help in first placement order for elementary school, and up to three hours in later placements (higher classes and high school) or in kindergarten. Article 5 of the same Regulations allows for additional expert help for blind and partially sighted children and allows one extra hour for kindergartens, the last third (classes from 7-9) of elementary school and secondary education, and three more hours for children in elementary school (classes from 1
-  6). This right is usually implemented in a form of group work in premises of School for blind. There is no such provision for children who are deaf or who have severe hearing impairments. 
Lien : Regulations on additional professional and physical help for the children and youth with special needs, 2006 
Spain Children with visual or hearing impairments have a right to but do not learn Braille or sign language in their school. Blind children usually learn Braille with the ONCE (National Organisation of Blind People) teachers and deaf children often learn sign language in other associations. ONCE is a non-profit corporate organisation that focuses its activities on the improvement of the quality of life of people with blindness or severe visual impairment from all over Spain. In mainstream schools additional support is provided by specialist teachers who are specialised in special education and/or hearing and speech difficulties. 
Lien : ONCE : National Organization of Blind People 
Additional links : CNSE : Confederation of Deaf People 
Sweden The School Act recognises sign language as a subject in education. According to the Decree on Primary Schools, schools are obliged to arrange for teaching in sign language if there are three or more pupils who choose it and, according to the Decree on Municipal Adult Education, if the principal allows, students have the right to be taught in sign language. 
Lien : National Agency for Special Needs Education 
United Kingdom There is no absolute right to the provision of communication in Braille or British Sign Language in the general education system, although support may be funded and provided for such communication methods. The Education (Teachers) Regulations 1993 require that all teachers of classes of hearing-impaired pupils and visually-impaired pupils must obtain a relevant, additional, approved qualification within three years of appointment. 
Lien : Education (Teachers) Regulations 1993 
Croatia The National Pedagogical Standard regulates the right of a deaf child to an interpreter for the sign language in classes (State pedagogical standard for secondary education, Art. 47(5)), Official Gazette 63/2008, 90/2010). 
Lien : State pedagogical standard for secondary education (Official Gazette 90/2010) 
Macedonia There are no provisions for learning Braille or sign language in mainstream schools. Braille and sign language are taught only in the special secondary schools for blind and deaf students respectively. With the Law for sign language kindegartens, primary and secondary schools are obliged to provide sign language interpretators for pupils with hearing impairments. 
Lien : Law for sign language 
Iceland The first school for the blind and visually impaired (Blindraskóli) opened in 1933 and was located in various forms as sub-units within mainstream schools. The school closed in 2004, partly as the result of the growing emphasis on mainstream, inclusive education and a decreasing enrolment of blind and visually impaired students within the school in favour of mainstream education. A report from 2004 from the Ministry of Education (Bćtt ađgengi blindra og sjónskertra ađ menntakerfinu) on improving access to education for blind and visually impaired students recommended, among other things, the creation of a knowledge centre that would provide support for blind, visually impaired and deaf/blind students, and teachers within mainstream education. The Centre was established in 2009 (Ţjónustu- og ţekkingarmiđstöđ fyrir blinda, sjónskerta og daufblinda einstaklinga) and provides such supports as evaluating students needs and equipment, learning materials, assessing schools, helping with curricula, and assisting with teaching methods. In terms of the legal context, the Education Acts from 2008, which govern pre-school and compulsory school and upper-secondary school (The Preschool Act ; Compulsory School Act ; and the Upper Secondary School Act) all make varying general references to inclusion and mainstream education, but nothing specific with regard to learning Braille. A bill that passed into law in June 2011 on the status of the Icelandic language and Icelandic Sign Language (Lög um stöđu íslenskrar tungu og íslensks táknmáls nr. 61/2011), also includes an article (Article 4) on the status of Braille in Icelandic (Íslenskt punktaletur). This Article recognises Braille as the first written language of blind and visually impaired people and stated that they should have the opportunity as early as possible to learn Braille. While this Law does not explicitly provide that blind and visually impaired students have the right to learn Braille in mainstream schools, it could possibly serve as the legal precedence for such an argument. Article 4 of the Regulation on students with special needs in compulsory school (Reglugerđ nr. 585/2010 um nemendur međ sérţarfir í grunnskóla) specifically entitles students with special needs to the use of “sign language, Braille and appropriate equipment, adapted materials, facilities and training to promote the best possible education, empowerment and social development.” While nothing deaf or hearing impairment specific appears in either The Preschool Act or the Compulsory School Act, the Upper Secondary School Act contains a reference in Article 34 of this Act which states that the regulations shall provide provisions on the right of hearing impaired and deaf students to receive special instruction in Icelandic Sign Language. This was recently reinforced with the passing of the law on the status of the Icelandic language and Icelandic Sign Language (Lög um stöđu íslenskrar tungu og íslensks táknmáls nr. 61/2011). Within this law, Article 3 holds that Icelandic Sign Language (Íslenskt táknmál) is the first language of deaf and hearing impaired people in Iceland and their children, and that the government should support and encourage its use. Anyone who needs to learn and use Sign Language should have the earliest possible opportunity to do so and that this same right also applies to their closest relatives. Article 13 also states that Icelandic Sign has the equal status as Icelandic as a form of communication between people and that it is ‘not permissible’ (óheimilt) to discriminate against people on the basis of their use of this language. The right to use Sign Language, at least at the compulsory school level, is also stated within the above-mentioned Regulation on students with special needs in compulsory school (Reglugerđ nr. 585/2010 um nemendur međ sérţarfir í grunnskóla). 
Lien : Law on the status of the Icelandic language and Icelandic Sign Language 61/2011 
Additional links : Ministry of Education report (2004) on improving access for blind and visually student in the education system 
Service Centre for Blind, Visually Impaired, and Deaf-Blind individuals 
Preschool Act 90/2008 
Compulsory School Act 91/2008 
Upper Secondary School Act 92/2008 
Regulation on students with special needs in compulsory school 585/2010 
Serbia We do not yet have information for this item
Turkey We do not yet have information for this item
Liechtenstein No specific provisions are noted in the Act on School Education with respect to sign language and Braille in school. General provisions, however, make clear that integration of children with disabilities into the regular schools is preferred and assistance to do so is offered by the state, e.g. by professional experts. 
Lien : Act on School Education 
Additional links : Department of Education - Special Education 
Norway According to Article 2-6 in the Law on Education, children with their "first language/mother tongue" in sign language have the right to have sign language as their compulsory school language. The right also applies to children under school age. Article 2-14 provides the right to necessary education in Braille and use of necessary assistive technology according to assessment. Article 3-9 and 3-10 covers requirements for secondary education. 
Lien : Sign language in compulsory school 
Source DOTCOM: the Disability Online Tool of the Commission

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