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We need an Argentine Sign Language Federal Act

We need an Argentine Sign Language Federal Act

According to United Nations, there are around 72 million Deaf people and 300 sign languages in the world. Although there is no official census data, in Argentina, there are an estimated 70,000 people who can't hear and around 450,000 people with some type of hearing disability.

In our country, some general legislation on Argentine Sign Language (LSA) has been enacted at both national and provincial levels, but there are currently no constitutional nor national laws specifically on LSA and the Deaf community. This is a big issue, as the lack of social awareness hinders Deaf people in having full access to their rights.

Why is it so important to advocate for an Argentine Sign Language Federal Act? The bill drafted by the Argentine Confederation of the Deaf (CAS) proposes: official recognition of LSA, promotion of LSA teaching by Deaf professionals, creation of official advisory bodies and full accessibility in government services. These items would highly improve the lives of Argentine Deaf people.

Tradoctas joins the Deaf community in their fight: we need an Argentine Sign Language Federal Act, now!

Mariana Reuter, founder of the Sordas Sin Violencia programme ("No Violence against Deaf Women")

Reuter is a Deaf psychological advisor and communicator as well as a member of Fundasor. She offers talks and workshops on Deaf culture, prevention of gender-based violence and comprehensive sexual education in schools and other institutions.

She works at Fundasor, a foundation dedicated to hearing families who have deaf kids. Its main goal is to create favorable conditions for equal communication between hearing and Deaf people.

The Sordas Sin Violencia programme ("No Violence against Deaf Women") offers support to Deaf and Hard of Hearing women who have experienced gender-based violence. For that purpose, the team behind this network founded by Reuter provides women in the Deaf community with a phone number to get in contact through WhatsApp and a mediator who assists them in reporting to the police. The programme also offers workshops on topics related to gender perspective and comprehensive sexual education, taught in sign language.

Is the right of access to information respected for Deaf people?

The Law on Audiovisual Communication Services (known as LSCA in Spanish), enacted in 2009, establishes that all communication content produced in Argentina has to include subtitles, sign language interpretation and audio description. However, how many public broadcasting services actually comply with this law?

The lack of accessibility in mass media violates the rights of Deaf people. Our Law on Access to Information establishes that all Argentine citizens are entitled to have access to information on policies and public governance, as this is considered to promote political participation and well-informed decision-making.

In response to the failure to comply with article 66 of the LSCA, the Deaf community has developed its own mechanisms to share information. During the pandemic, several interpreters came together as volunteers to interpret the official reports giving instructions on how to follow the new regulations that came into effect regarding mandatory isolation for prevention and the necessary precautions to be taken in order to prevent getting the virus.

There are more examples of interpreters and community members who share news and important information on social media. Do you know about CN Sordos and their work? They are a team of Deaf communicators who collect news throughout the week and share them as a news broadcast exclusively in Argentine Sign Language on Youtube.

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