Dear Ladies and
Sign language has been
officially recognized as a minority language in about twenty world
countries. The European Parliament Resolution on sign languages,
UN Declaration and UNESCO report on deaf education emphasize the
importance and value of sign language as well as the need for
teaching deaf children by using sign language.
Maybe it is unusual in
the world for a Deafblind Association to be the initiator of a
symposium on sign language and deaf culture. However, this isn't
unusual if we know that the deafblind community shares many
similarities with the deaf community with respect to
communication. Communication is precisely what caused many
problems for the deafblind, since in Croatia there were no
educated interpreters nor verified programs for quality training
of interpreters for the deaf and deafblind
That is why the
Croatian Association of the Deafblind "Touch", aiming to
improve the quality of life of the deafblind in Croatia, with the
help of experts from other countries, worked out a program for a
sign language course , and began continually holding experimental
courses for interpreters and translators lasting two years . The
experimental stage started in autumn 1998 and is still going on.
We now already have a third generation of interpreters who are
still being trained. We received two awards in this field: The
Award of the City of Zagreb and the Award for pioneer work in the
field of deafblindness.
With this symposium we
intended, first of all, to raise deaf people's awareness , as well
as the awareness of a broader community in Croatia, of the value
of sign language, the value of deaf culture and of the need for
interpreters. The symposium participants are from different
countries and will be sharing their experiences as we strive to
enrich our understanding.
Since the Department of
Hearing Impairments of the Faculty of Special Education and
Rehabilitation of the University of Zagreb and the Faculty of
Philosophy of the Society of Jesus have also played a certain role
in establishing sign language in the community, at our initiative
we decided to organize the symposium together, with different
topics related to sign language and deaf culture, and with a minor
reference to the problems of the deafblind.
We hope that this
symposium will significantly contribute to the improvement of the
quality of life for deaf and deafblind persons in Croatia, and
that the experiences which you will carry back home with you after
the symposium will contribute to the betterment of deaf and
deafblind persons in your countries.
We warmly welcome you
and we wish you a pleasant stay in Zagreb!
President of the Organizing Committee
President of the Croatian Association of the Deafblind