Official Languages

The issue

What are the official languages of the Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada?

CAD-ASC’s position
CAD-ASC uses American Sign Language and la langue des signes québeécoise as its two official languages. We also recognize English and French as our two secondary languages. ASL and LSQ have equal status, while English and French have equal (to each other) secondary (to ASL and LSQ) status.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada is committed to the principle of equality between anglophones and francophones in all aspects of Canadian and Deaf life.

The official working languages of the Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada are American Sign Language (ASL) and la langue des signes québeécoise (LSQ). These two languages have equal status and first priority within the CAD-ASC and its activities.

The CAD-ASC uses spoken/written English and French as its secondary languages. These two languages have equal status with each other, and they have second priority (below ASL and LSQ) within the CAD-ASC and its activities.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada recognizes the existence of different modes of accessing language such as captioning, lipreading, assistive devices, and oral interpretation. These modes have third priority within the CAD-ASC and its activities, but they do not have official status or equality with ASL/LSQ or English/French.

We are aware of the existence of various sign systems. We not recognize the validity of these methods of communication. These systems of communication have been created by non-Deaf people and are not natural languages such as ASL and LSQ. We consider them a means by which hearing educators and others have attempted to oppress the Deaf community, and we do not grant them status within the CAD-ASC and its activities.

The commitment of the Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada towards the equality of anglophones and francophones includes the production of bilingual materials such as ASL/LSQ videos and French/English written documents. It includes working towards a bilingual ASL/LSQ approach in CAD-ASC meetings and conferences as appropriate. It includes encouraging greater involvement in CAD-ASC activities by francophones, such as organizational affiliation, personal involvement in CAD-ASC Committee work, attending CAD-ASC functions, and representing the CAD-ASC to other organizations and advisory bodies.

The by-laws of the Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada specifically require francophone voting representation from the three provinces with significant French populations (Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick). The by-laws also require a minimum number of seats on the Board of Directors to be filled by francophones.

The CAD-ASC recognizes the existence of a Deaf francophone population outside of Quebec, notably in the Sudbury area of Ontario and the northeastern region of New Brunswick. The special problems faced by non-Quebec Deaf francophones are very serious; they are “double minorities”, being Deaf and French in a hearing and English society. In addition, it has been difficult for them to organize their communities and to obtain the resources, education, experience, and services they need to advocate for themselves. The CAD-ASC supports their efforts and their rights to equality.

Recommended reading: “Ideological Barriers to American Sign Language: Unpacking Linguistic Resistance”, by Timothy Reagan. Sign Language Studies, 2011, 11(4), http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/sls/summary/v011/11.4.reagan.html

APPROVED: 3 JULY 2015

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
The Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada
606 – 251 Bank Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1X3
(613) 565-2882
www.cad.ca