CLOSE

Sign language history: 20th Century

1990s

ASL Recognized in Alberta


Alberta School for the Deaf students and staff with Bill Payne, a Member of Legislative Assembly (in gray suit standing in the left front row).

1990: MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) Bill Payne of Calgary proposed Motion 216: "Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Government, given the cultural uniqueness of Alberta's deaf community and the linguistic uniqueness of American Sign Language, to recognize American Sign Language as a language of the deaf in Alberta; and to incorporate it into Alberta's grade school and post-secondary curriculum as an available language of instruction." The Legislature passed the motion on June 19th, 1990.

SL Recognized in Slovak Republic

1995: The National Council of the Slovak Republic passed a law recognizing "Sign Language as a language of communication of the Deaf" June 26th, 1995. -- WFD News, April 1996

SL Recognized in Finland

1995: Sign Language was recognized in the Finnish Constitution in August 1995.

SL Recognized in Uganda

On October 8th, 1995, the sign language was recognized and included in Uganda's new Constitution after the Uganda National Association of the Deaf and its allies campaigned to promote sign language awareness in Uganda. -- WFD News, April 1996

Best Actress Award

1995: Alla Kliouka-Schaffer, a hearing Russian actress, won the "Green Apple" award (an equivalent to the America's Oscar) for the "Best Actress" in Russia on Nov. 8, 1995. Following her acceptance speech, she handed the award to the moderator to hold, then continued her speech in fluent Russian sign language for her Deaf parents in the audience, which made a shocking wave on the audience. It was a moment that she came out of the "closet" without a shame. At the end of her speech in sign language, she earned her standing ovations and made a great inspiration to many people in Russia. It brought a headline in many nationwide newspapers, magazines and television news shows. -- JAL Archives

First Deaf Signer

1996: The first Deaf signer was elected to the Uganda parliament as Member of Parliament in Africa South of the Sahara. -- UNAD

Eldridge v. British Columbia

1997: The Canadian Supreme Court ruled in the Eldridge v. British Columbia case on October 9th that sign language interpreters must be provided in the health care services across Canada.

Royal Visit

1998: Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry visited the Burnaby South Secondary School and the Provincial School for the Deaf on March 24, 1998, in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. At the Michael J. Fox theatre in the opening, six students performed the "God Save the Queen" in American Sign Language, as well as the "O Canada" at the end of the event.

SL Recognized in Czech

1998: In early June, the Czech parliament passed a bill that Czech Sign Language was officially recognized as the first language of the Deaf people in Czech Republic. Deaf people have the right to get 24-hour sign language interpreting service at no charge. Deaf children have the right to get education in their native sign language. In addition, under the law, parents of deaf children have the right to attend sign language classes at no charge. Although, the law didn't include the interpreting in high schools, universitites, and courts. -- From 'Gong' magazine editor to DWW

Thai SL Recognized in Thailand

1999: Thai Sign Language is now acknowledged as "the national language of deaf people in Thailand" in August. The Minister of Education signed a resolution on behalf of the Royal Thai Government in August, 1999.

Venezuelan SL Recognized in Venezuela

1999: The government of Venezuela officially recognized Venezuela Sign Language as Deaf people's language in the national Constitution on November 12th.

Related links: Timeline: 2000s.