Canada Signs Covention on Disabled Rights

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Canada Signs Covention on Disabled Rights

March 30, 2007

On March 30, 2007, Canada signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Disabled. By doing this, Canada acknowledged the rights of Deaf people to have access to education in sign language.

In Article 24 of the Convention, under the Education section, it notes the importance of: “facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the Deaf community”. It also notes the importance of “ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf, and deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.” The convention outlines the responsibility for authorities to take measures to employ teachers, including those with disabilities, who are fluent in sign language, Braille, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education.

Jim Roots, Executive Director of the Canadian Association Deaf (CAD) was one of the guests in attendance at the Ottawa press conference where Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter MacKay, signed the symbolic document in prior to the official signing ceremony in New York. Mr. Roots expressed that this landmark moment is extremely important for Deaf Canadians.

“The Convention confirms the rights to receive education and access to information in sign language, to have professional sign language interpreting, to accept and facilitate the use of sign languages, and to promote the cultural and linguistic identity of the Deaf community,” Mr. Roots expressed. “In addition, sign languages are defined as languages equal to spoken languages. It says we have a right to education in Sign, no matter what kind of school program our children are enrolled in, and no matter what the provincial government policy is.”