Renowned scholars gather at the 29th and 30th April 2014 at Ghent University, Belgium, to examine the topics of Sign Language, Sustainable Development, and Equal Opportunities at an international conference. Since contributions of deaf scholars and professors are a crucial aspect of an inclusive society and advanced education, their involvement in the conference is noteworthy for advanced and university education in Flanders and in many countries in Europe.
Increased interaction between deaf citizens, sign language communities and the ‘mainstream’ societies in which they function is creating the potential for greater equality of opportunity for people who are deaf. These changing communities’ understanding of what is required to become ‘sustainable’ – in areas such as full participation in society, economic well-being, access to quality education, and cultural and linguistic identity – is also taking on new forms.
The conference at the 29th and 30th April 2014 at Ghent University, Belgium, will highlight theoretical perspectives and real-life examples of sustainable development for deaf/sign language communities. Topics discussed at the conference are quality of life and good quality education for deaf learners, human rights and universal design, sign language legislation, sign languages and deaf communities in non-western countries, and deaf citizens, participation and politics.
Scientific innovation is necessary to meet challenges of inclusive and good quality education for deaf and hard of hearing learners and to provide optimal support services to parents of deaf children.
The conference is organized in cooperation with the European Union of the Deaf and Fevlado (Federation of Flemish Organizations of the Deaf) and is supported by the Flemish Ministry of Equal Opportunities.
The conference recommends for the next Flemish government to invest in:
• The development and bringing together of specialized research expertise on education of deaf and hard of hearing learners that takes into account their diverse backgrounds.
• The implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Points of particular interest are the promotion of Flemish Sign Language and deaf culture and the participation of deaf and hard of hearing students. This includes:
1. A support framework and support services for an educational practice in which deaf and hard of hearing learners can meet each other, can come into contact with deaf role models and professionals, and can access rich and diverse resources and stories for positive identity development.
2. Full and continued access to the acquisition of Flemish Sign Language and to new pedagogies and educational materials oriented towards the current information age.
3. A guidebook for the 2013 Interpreters in Education Decree that supports teachers and professionals in working with deaf and hard of hearing students and professionals.
4. Good quality and inclusive bilingual education with Flemish Sign Language
• Developing fundamental and applied research in support of educational practice, educational materials, and a specialized training program for teachers of deaf and hard of hearing learners.
• Developing quality control of education for deaf and hard of hearing students.
• Research on educational and employment trajectories of the target group.
REHACARE.de; Source: Ghent University