The European Parliament hosted one of the largest conferences organised in Europe for deaf and hard of hearing people. At the invitation of RMDSZ MEP Csaba Sógor a group of Hungarians from Transylvania also attended the event organised on the European Day of Languages, on the 28th of September. At the closing of the event a parliamentary draft resolution on the improvement of the situation of sign language speakers was also adopted.
832 participants attended the conference entitled Multilingualism and equal rights in the European Union, from 28 member states and 15 countries from outside the EU, most of them deaf or hard of hearing. Participants were invited by 65 MEPs at the initiative of Belgian MEP Helga Stevens. It was a unique experience for the guests of MEP Csaba Sógor to meet several hundred sign language speaking people like them from different parts of the continent. The conference was translated by 145 sign language interpreters simultaneously into 31 EU, 1 non EU sign languages, and 24 European spoken languages.
„I’m a Hungarian from Szeklerland, Transylvania, Romania. I represent 1.5 million Hungarians including deaf and hard of hearing people who are often the target of discrimination in my country” – said and expressed in sign language, too the RMDSZ MEP. In his opinion the European Day of Languages is a good opportunity to raise awareness about the many problems Europe is facing regarding regional and minority languages, and ensuring the use of sign languages. Sógor stressed: this is an issue that only very few member states managed to solve adequately. Therefore there is a further need for a more effective action from the European institutions against all forms of language discrimination – including discrimination against minority language and sign language speakers – in the member states.
Csaba Sógor also thought it important to sign the draft resolution of the host of the event, MEP Helga Stevens, which she wishes to submit to the European Parliament for adoption. The document stresses the need for trained, professional sign language interpreters in Europe, for which EU institutions and member states need to formally adopt the different national and regional sing languages. Furthermore, sign language interpreters need access to quality, bachelor level training recognised on a European level – the document states.
The draft resolution also highlights that access to education for the hearing impaired should be promoted, as this is the way to ensure equal rights on the labour market. It also emphasizes the fact that everyone has the right of access to information: subtitles or sign language interpretation can greatly help these groups in every aspect of life.
The Hungarian MEP from Romania believes that we ought to speak more about the employment and social affairs achievements of the EU: there is little discussion about what the EU does for people, how it helps people with disabilities for instance, or how it combats poverty or youth unemployment. We should change this – stated Csaba Sógor.