Sign Language Communities

Maartje De Meulder, Verena Krausneker, Graham H. Turner, John Bosco Conama

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The twenty-first century has brought a unique dynamic for Sign Language Communities (SLCs) as they respond to threats and opportunities resulting from changes in both their external and internal environments. This chapter discusses those changes, as well as policy and planning aimed at sign languages, and explains how linguistic rights of deaf signers heavily depend on interpreting services and why this is problematic. The current ideological climate means that linguistic human rights, educational linguistic rights, self-determination, and the right to physical integrity are paramount on SLCs’ agenda. While some aspects that affect SLCs are similar to other linguistic minorities, some are quite different and result from the fact that SLCs are also seen as people with disabilities. Particularly SLCs’ long history of dealing with attempts at medical normalisation and the current genetic discourse (and in some countries also practice) that questions their right to exist raise concerns about their long-term vitality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Minority Languages and Communities
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781137540669
ISBN (Print)9781137540652
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Sign language communities
  • Linguistic rights
  • Interpreting services
  • Disabilities
  • Normalization


Dive into the research topics of 'Sign Language Communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this