Continuing from Day 2 & plenary speakers of Day 3…

The Linguistic-Cultural Rights in Deaf Education and the Sign Language Act in Finland – Jaana Aaltonen (Finland).

Finnish Sign Language Act was approved by the Finnish Parliament in March 2015. However, Finnish Sign Language has been recognised as a natural language and the language of the Deaf community in Finland since 1995.

Jaana Aaltonen, alongside with Pirkko Selin Grönlund and Päivi Rainò, carried out a national survey to collect information and statistics about sign language users and deaf pupils in schools across Finland, and the pedagogic arrangements of sign language in Finnish schools.

The findings were:

Aaltonen said that the number of children using sign language in schools is decreasing at an alarming rate. She hopes that the new Finnish Sign Act (2015) will increase the number of children using sign language in schools. She showed a list of recommendations/solutions based on findings from the national survey:

  • To promote linguistic rights in basic education and the implementation of it; especially pupils who use Finnish-Swedish sign language.
  • More guidance for local schools and also more further training for teachers. The responsibility of local Deaf clubs has not been discussed yet.
  • More Deaf signers to teacher jobs. More learning materials and a pedagogical reform are needed.
  • More qualitative research is needed.

The main purpose of Finnish Sign Language Act (2015) is to promote the realisation of the linguistic rights of signers. Aaltonen also stressed on the importance of promoting opportunities of signers to use their language and to receive information in their own language.




Facebook is also used for academic networking and support, as Cuculick has found during her research. Academics also use Facebook to support each other.




First Signs, a brilliant initiative established by Deaf Aotearoa, provides families, who have deaf and hard of hearing children, with opportunities to include NZSL as an additional language in their home. Bensley et al said that the initative also encourages families to become bimodal, and connects them with deaf professionals and the Deaf community in New Zealand.

NZSL@SCHOOL – a joint initative between the Ministry of Education and two Deaf schools in New Zealand: