Sign Language Protection for Deaf People from the Perspective of Linguistic Rights: Challenges and Responses
August 17,2021   By:CSHRS
Sign Language Protection for Deaf People from the Perspective of Linguistic Rights: Challenges and Responses
ZHENG Xuan* & ZHAO Yongshuai**
Abstract: Human society is becoming more and more inclusive,diverse, and open-minded, which has led to the increasing recognition of linguistic rights as a basic human right. Around the world, many countries have recognized the status of their national sign language at the legal level. However, sign languages and their main users, the Deaf, are still facing many challenges. At the macro level, sign languages are neglected by mainstream culture, causing them to be endangered. At the micro level, communication barriers make it extremely hard for Deaf people to express their demands. A series of language plans can be designed to effectively deal with the challenges above, including social language plans, family language plans, and school language plans.
Keywords: linguistic rights· deaf people · sign languages·language preservation
There have always been people with disabilities. In the progress of human civilization, disability is both an unavoidable price to pay and a cornerstone for the continuous improvement of science and technology. The hearing-impaired, or Deaf,are a unique group of people with disabilities, as the obstacles they encounter in voiced communication turns them into the “invisible people with disabilities” and lacking the ability to produce sounds makes self-advocacy and self-protection a difficult task for them.
The International Congress on the Education of the Deaf in Vancouver, Canada in 2010 acknowledged the Deaf to be a “linguistic and cultural minority.” In a sense, this definition could be considered a deconstruction of the traditional view of disability,regarding Deafness more as an identity than a defect. As long they have acquired proper communication tools and received necessary education, the Deaf can make contributions to society and support themselves just as others do. Sign language, with a history probably as long as that of the Deaf themselves, is the language most in line with the physical and mental characteristics of the Deaf, the easiest language for them to learn and acquire, as well as the carrier and core of Deaf culture.1
Since the 1960s, when the American linguist William Stokoe proposed that American Sign Language (ASL) is a genuine language, sign languages have risen to a linguistic focus, and Sign Language Linguistics has developed into an independent discipline accordingly. Having been used by the Deaf for thousands of years, sign languages have caught researcher’s attention, be it the family gestures created by Deaf children themselves before they enter school, a variation of sign language full of local culture, or a National Sign Language Program that is continuously supplemented and improved. Fruitful results of linguistic research not only provide a direct and valuable source for Deaf education, but also inform language policy makers around the world. This paper reviews how sign languages gained recognition as a language by “being codified into laws” from the perspective of linguistic rights, examines current crises and challenges they are facing, and tries to put forward some policy proposals on sign language protection.
I. Deaf People and Sign Language from the Perspective of Linguistic Rights
A. Linguistic rights as basic human rights
Individuals have the right to choose the language they like and use it to communicate, which has long been mentioned in major international legal texts, such as the Charter of the United Nations (1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) etc. However,it was not until the 1990s that the Finnish linguist Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (1995) formally proposed that language is a basic human right which can be further divided into individual and collective linguistic rights.2 In June 1996, the World Conference on Linguistic Rights was held in Barcelona, Spain, in which the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (hereinafter referred to as “the Declaration”) was adopted and submitted to the UN General Assembly.3 The Declaration clearly stated that Linguistic Right is a complex concept derived from linguistic communities and enjoyed by both individuals and collectives. Individual rights include the right to be recognized as a member of a language community; the right to the use of one’s own language both in private and in public; the right to the use of one’s own name; the right to interrelate and associate with other members of one’s language community of origin; and the right to maintain and develop one’s own culture. Collective rights include the right for a community’s own language and culture to be taught; the right of access to cultural services; the right to an equitable presence of their language and culture in the communications media; and the right to receive attention in their own language from government bodies and in socioeconomic relations etc.4 At the same time, the prerequisite of the expression of linguistic rights is that societies adopt an attitude of “integration”, not in the sense that all members should act in the same way in order to live in harmony, but rather in the sense of respecting the multiculturalism in the society, being convinced that one belongs to something “different”, and realizing that despite all the differences, all are equal before the rights. In 2011, The Girona Manifesto made a more in-depth and complete exposition of linguistic rights, clearly defining their connotations at both individual and collective levels. Though never officially adopted by UNESCO, both the Declaration and The Girona Manifesto are great explorations in terms of their formulation, value pursuit and analyses of both the meaning and the function of languages.5
Despite the rapid development of research on linguistic rights worldwide since the 1990s, their connotations have not yet been fully established, nor is there any consensus on the core issues such as the subjects and contents of linguistic right, or their status within the legal framework. Most scholars tend to believe that linguistic rights are basic human rights, but there are disagreements on whether they need legislative affirmation. Others believe that linguistic rights are essentially a political issue and should not be dealt with by the human rights-based approach, as their inclusion in the human rights framework would cut off the way out for political solutions.6 It is because of these differences and controversies that the United Nations often depicts linguistic rights as the “protection of linguistic diversity” in its official documents.
B. Significance of linguistic rights to deaf people
Although linguistic rights are not mentioned explicitly in the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), “sign language” and “Deaf culture” appear eight times in the original text, which is a clear indication regarding the right to use sign languages to communicate is a basic right for Deaf people. If the hearingimpaired are deprived of linguistic rights, they will feel their culture and language are threatened. Such social injustice will inevitably lead to cultural and social conflicts. 
The underlying motivation behind it is the concern for the unfavorable position the Deaf are in around the world. The World Report on Disability 20117 pointed out that the Deaf face the same plights as people with other physical and mental disabilities do: many are unemployed or partly unemployed; some countries still deny Deaf people their basic civil rights, such as the right to vote and to be voted for; Deaf people in some areas do not have any access to schools. The World Federation of the Deaf (WDF) even estimates that over 80% of Deaf children are not schooled.8 If governments do not promote the use of sign language or allow Deaf people to obtain information by sign language, all legislative statements would act “as paper status.”9 Therefore, the WDF appeals that “it is necessary to recognize and promote the use of sign languages to secure the fundamental right to freedom of expression and opinion is granted to Deaf people.”10
These appeals and advocacy for the rights of Deaf people in the West are primarily carried out by civil Deaf communities or academic organizations, which provide a platform or medium for the public to understand Deaf people and their organizational culture. With advocating sign languages being the major goal in their work, they make defending the rights of the Deaf to use sign languages their central task. In many countries, the primary goal of Deaf-led advocacy organizations is to promote the right to use sign languages in a variety of contexts,11 ranging from the environments where Deaf children live and grow up to larger socio-cultural contexts. Since Deaf people all over the world share similar experiences of Deafness, their sign languages have the common attributes of visual language and similar grammatical rules, and face similar challenges. Therefore, it is easy to find similarities in the advocacy practice of sign languages in various countries.
C. Sign language rights in China
The fields and measures advocated by the West to protect the right to use sign language are not uncommon in China. The right to use sign language in the classroom and to access to barrier-free services in society are the two major concerns of Deaf people around the world. The “hand vs. mouth dispute” lasting for hundreds of years is a direct reflection of the former. However, in China, debates on sign languages focus more on “which one to use.”
It is, first of all, a choice between standardized universal sign language and its regional variations. The WFD might find it hard to understand the National Universal Sign Language Scheme, China’s initiative to standardize universal sign language, as it once stated that it “does not support any formal standardization activities related to any sign language”12 for the purpose of preserving the richness of sign languages. However, there are differences between China and Western countries in terms of their national conditions. As China is a vast country with the largest Deaf population in the world, who scattered across the country, and as a developing country, it did not enjoy the same access to convenient remote communication as Europe and the United States did in the past, the connections between Deaf people in different regions are relatively weak. Without frequent communication, it is impossible for variations of sign languages to integrate. Given these facts, the internal regional differences of China’s sign language and the communication barriers between Deaf people are far greater than those of developed countries in Europe and the United States. The standardization of Chinese Sign Language as a language takes much longer time and more efforts than that of single-nation countries in the West.
Second, it is also a choice of which communication tools should be used in Deaf schools. According to a survey conducted by Gu Dingqian et al. in 2004, communication barriers between relevant workers, Deaf parents and Deaf people in China still exist, mainly because the sign languages used and understood by these three groups are not the same.13 At present, sign languages are not formally introduced into the curriculum of compulsory education in Deaf schools as a subject. Teachers there are not required to take any sign language tests before they are employed, nor are there any scientific, standardized and professional sign language learning channels for them after they are hired, which is why teachers and students often use different sign languages. The sign language used by teachers in class based on Chinese grammar is not always understood by students, while the one used by students in conversation with each other in their daily life is often not understood by teachers. Many researchers have pointed out that the problem of communication has become a major obstacle to the effectiveness of teaching and learning in Deaf schools in China.
II. Legal Grounds for Sign Language Protection
Since the linguistic status of sign language has been recognized for a long time,the beneficiary of linguistic rights protection should naturally cover Deaf people.14 According to WDF, 68% of the State parties to the UNCRPD have recognized the legal status of sign language.
A. International legislation
Internationally, the legislative design of sign language protection and the degree of its recognition and protection vary from one to another. Generally speaking, there are several legislative designs related to sign language as follows.15
1. Recognized by the Constitution
As of 2015, 11 countries have recognized the legal status of sign language at the constitutional level, and these legal provisions are scattered across different areas. Eight of these 11 countries (Finland, Uganda, South Africa, New Zealand,Austria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Hungary) made relevant provisions in language- or culture-related articles. New Zealand is the only country recognizing sign language as an official language. Portugal has made provisions in education-related articles. Venezuela and Ecuador have made provisions in articles related to disability.
2. Recognized by general language-related laws
Some countries, such as Latvia, Estonia, Sweden and Iceland, have recognized sign language legally at the level of general language-related legislation, which also regulates their official spoken language. All of these legislations define sign language by a specific name. Different as they are, the laws of the four countries require the country to ensure and promote the development and use of sign language.
3. Recognized by special sign language law
Countries that have adopted special legislation to recognize the legal status of sign language are Slovakia, Uruguay, Brazil, Slovenia, Belgium, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Catalonia, Finland and Serbia. It is worth mentioning that some countries, such as Spain, Italy and Colombia, recognize the status of sign language in special legislations, but these special legislations also recognize “other ways of communication.” In some cases, this type of legislative design can be regarded as the result of the downplaying of the special legislative proposal on sign language.
4. Recognized by functional regulations of the national language committee
Norway, Denmark and other Nordic countries have recognized the status of sign language in functional regulations of their national language commissions.
In addition to these four categories, some countries have adopted more “implicit” legal provisions, which fall into three categories. First, sign language is mentioned only in legislation related to disability, equality or education in Lithuania,Germany, Mexico, Chile, Japan, Russia, France and the Netherlands. Second, sign language is recognized by government decisions or statements (without explicit de jure recognition) in Australia, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Third, ASL and Quebec Sign Language are not recognized in North America (mainly the United States and Canada) by federal laws, but by state or provincial laws. Some provinces in Canada have legislated to recognize ASL or Quebec Sign Language as a language of instruction. Forty states in the United States recognize the status of ASL as a legal language, and some of them have made it an optional language for educational purposes, along with French, Japanese, and Chinese. It should be noted that recognition of its legal status in the United States has a greater impact on hearing people than the Deaf, as it has less to do with linguistic rights but more to do with emphasizing ASL as a language that can be learned to meet foreign language requirements.
B. Domestic legislation
Domestic legislation and institutional construction on sign language in China have their own characteristics. Jiang Dudu et al. (2018) pointed out that at this stage, there are no special sign language legislation in China. Sign language legislation is fragmented, and its status as a language has not been legally recognized.16
As to the Constitution, there are no direct provisions on sign language in the current Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as “the Constitution”), but there are some indirect legal grounds in the articles related to education and social security. For example, Article 19 of the Constitution stipulates “…develops educational facilities in order to eliminate illiteracy…” The education of hearing-impaired people is an important part of the national education. The education of this group cannot be developed without sign language. Therefore, it can be inferred that the development of sign language is also a part of Article 19 of the Constitution.17 There are many indirect legal grounds such as this in the Constitution.
As to specific laws and regulations, provisions on sign language can be found in different legal texts. For example, Article 4 of Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons stipulates that “the state shall provide persons with disabilities with special assistance by adopting supplementary methods and supportive measures with a view to alleviating or eliminating the effects of their disabilities and external barriers and ensuring the realization of their rights.”18 Article 8 of Regulation on the Education of the Disabled states that “parents or other guardians of disabled children and juveniles shall respect and protect the rights of disabled children and juveniles to education, actively carry out family education, make disabled children and juveniles receive recovery training and education in a timely manner, assist and participate in the education and teaching activities of relevant educational institutions, and support disabled children and juveniles to receive education.”19 Obviously, the “support” mentioned in the regulations cannot be implemented without sign language. In addition to these indirect provisions, direct provisions can also be found in the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons and the Regulation on the Construction of Barrier-Free Environments. Article 55 of the former stipulates that “public service institutions and public places shall create conditions to provide persons with disabilities with voice and word hints, sign language, Braille and other information communication services, and preferential and auxiliary services.”20 Articles 21 and 24 of the latter state that “government-run TV stations at or above the municipal level shall broadcast TV programs with subtitles and news programs with sign language at least once per week. Publicly distributed video products, including movies and TV shows, must have subtitles” and “public service institutions and public places shall provide information exchange services such as voice and text prompts, sign language, Braille, etc. for persons with disabilities, and provide barrier-free service skills training for staff.”21 Similar provisions are mostly found in legal articles directly related to specific rights of Deaf people, reflecting the characteristics of these laws.
In addition to the two categories mentioned above, provisions on sign language can also be found in some industry standards, regulations and normative and guiding documents. Such regulations mainly focus on the technical standards of the sign language itself,22 such as Universal Sign Language Chart for the Deaf, National Vocational Standard for Sign Language Interpreters, Information Accessibility for People with Physical Disabilities Technical Requirements for Web Accessibility and so on.
III. Challenges Sign Languages Face
People with disabilities live in a world lacking in understanding from others, let alone resources and support.23 Besides the oppression they suffer in terms of political and economic rights, which has already been discussed in the previous section, there are undoubtedly more challenges for Deaf people and Deaf community organizations to deal with, which vary according to various factors such as national developments, differences between urban and rural areas, political system differences and gender.24
A. Macro level: erosion of mainstream culture and endangered sign languages
The fact that sign language is a genuine language has long been recognized by linguists all over the world. However, sign language is not exactly a “minority language” in the traditional sense, because its users do not gather in a specific geographical area. Its communication channels are different from those of traditional minority languages.25 In most cases, the parents of Deaf people are not Deaf. About 95% of Deaf teenagers grew up in hearing families,26 thus their growth inevitably bears a deep imprint of mainstream culture. Sign language has become a manifestation of a certain kind of “abnormality,” a “linguistic stigma” and a “subordinate” form of communication. This stigma stems not only from the outside world, but within the Deaf communities.27
The impact and erosion of language brought by mainstream culture have imposed a negative emotional experience on the use of sign language. In fact, this value recognition extends beyond language to ideological inequality, which leads Deaf people to outline and even construct their own conceptions of disability.28 The ideological perception of language is also associated with Deaf people’s identity and even their social orientation. When sign languages cannot or are rarely recognized or protected by law, but there are some channels (such as communication among Deaf people and special education, etc.) to learn sign language, it becomes a kind of “subordinate” of spoken language.29 Accordingly, as the main users of sign language,Deaf people also seem to be “subordinate” in status to hearing people. Linguistic diversity is actually linked to social justice, and the significance of language for its users is self-evident. A language even represents a culture to some extent. If different languages do not enjoy equal rights and recognition at the legal and social levels, there can be no equity among language users.
B. Micro level: obstacles individuals encounter and limits of express
What and how people think is always confined by the culture they live in, which in turn shapes the people’s lives. Deaf people live in a world that is “not designed for them,” and the ways and contents of communication for Deaf people are marginalized by mainstream culture.30 To some extent, when the communication channels of a social group are excluded by mainstream culture, so is the group itself. Thus, their voices are not heard, and their existence becomes insignificant. The social barriers the Deaf community encounters may go far beyond the influence exerted by the dominant culture to the contradictions within the Deaf community. This is already evident in the promotion and application of sign language in China: which is more popular, the universal sign language or the local sign language, the natural sign language or the signed Chinese? These questions are divided within the Deaf community and between the Deaf community and relevant workers. The reason for the disagreement lies in the fact that most of these workers, including Deaf education teachers, are hearing people. They are not able to avoid the value priorities of the mainstream culture in the process of designing and promoting sign language, and they prefer that Chinese sign language be designed in a unified and standardized way according to the word order of the spoken language. Some students and teachers in Deaf schools also share this opinion. However, most Deaf people, especially those in society, do not necessarily understand this communication paradigm and its norms, as they are the ones who are experiencing “hearing loss.” They tend to use local sign language and natural sign language.31 This is also the reason why Chinese Sign Language has not become a social glue among the large number of Deaf people in China since its publication, and the universal sign language even caused “awkward confusion.”32
Ⅳ. Coping Strategies and Suggestions
Social Linguistic Rights emphasize the protection of both the universal sign language and local sign languages. As mentioned above, in China, the history of the promotion of universal sign language can be traced back to the birth of the country itself. In the 1950s, along with the campaign to promote Mandarin nationwide,Universal Sign Language Chart for the Deaf, “Mandarin for the Deaf,” was published. In 2001, the Department of Education and Employment of China Disabled Persons’ Federation and China Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing revised and promoted the two volumes of Chinese Sign Language.33 However, the promotion was not smooth. In 2004, according to a survey conducted by the two associations on sign language-related issues nationwide, decades of promotion did not seem to have produced satisfactory results, and “there were even differences between the sign languages used by teachers in the same special teaching school, between Deaf schools in the same regions, between teachers and students in Deaf schools and Deaf people in society, and between Deaf people in different places.”34 This is due in large part to the fact that Deaf people got so used to their local sign languages created, used, and passed down long ago that only extremely frequent cross-regional communication can drive it to gradual and natural unification. Developers of the current universal sign language are trying to “learn from the best”, yet they are inevitably faced with the challenge of “pleasing all.” However, the gap between universal sign language and the local sign languages is not irreparable, nor was there any irreconcilable contradiction other than differences in terms of time, occasion and objects. Much as a hearing person can speak in Mandarin and dialects freely and proficiently, Deaf people can master universal sign language and local sign languages at the same time. The universal sign language ensures that the Deaf community can have a universal communication tool which enables Deaf people in different regions and different cultural backgrounds to communicate with each other and gives the hearing community the opportunity to master sign language, which is especially important in the context of promoting inclusive education and multiculturalism. In fact, at the national policy level, in the process of promoting universal sign language, “people with disabilities and relevant workers are still free to choose and use other kinds of sign languages… there is no need to worry that local sign language will be restricted or even die out.”35 In this way, the universal sign language based on national standard needs further promotion while local sign languages based on the Deaf community’s own life experiences and convenience should be cherished and protected.
Family language planning focuses on providing guidance and support for families of Deaf children. The vast majority of Deaf children were born and raised in hearing environments,36 which means Deaf children and their hearing parents lack natural access to sign language for at least the years before schooling, and their parents are unable to provide direct sign language support for their children’s early education. Therefore, they are desperately in need of external resources to learn sign language. Language stimulation is critical to early childhood development. Since Deaf children cannot perceive the information stimulation from spoken language due to their impaired access to acoustic information, visual information becomes the most important source of stimulation for their early brain development. Incomplete and insufficient language input will lead to “language deprivation”, which will have a serious negative impact on their subsequent development. Communities should provide sign language support for families of Deaf children, not only for Deaf children themselves, but also for their parents and other family members. Sweden and Norway have established complete sign language learning programs for parents of Deaf children. Parents of Deaf children in Sweden have been required to receive approximately 240 hours of Swedish Sign Language education since 1998, while those in Norway are required to receive about 1,600 hours of Norwegian Sign Language training courses.37 With due consideration of Chinese culture, a communitybased sign language support system for families of Deaf children might be a useful attempt to establish family language planning.
Language learning planning to protect the rights of Deaf children to acquire and use sign language. The importance of schooling for Deaf people cannot be overstated. Before there was special education, the vast majority of people with disabilities,including Deaf people, did not have any access to schooling, or to the general school system before inclusive education.38 Language education for Deaf people embodies two basic human rights, i.e., linguistic rights and the right to education. School is undoubtedly one of the best places for Deaf people to practice their sign language rights. Schooling for younger students should attach importance to the development of basic knowledge and a complete worldview. It is of great significance to add sign language in language education at this stage for the normal development of Deaf children’s abilities in all aspects.
The acquisition of sign language also lays a foundation for a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of sign language for the Deaf community. Article 23 of the Declaration states, “Education must help to foster the capacity for linguistic and cultural self-expression of the language community of the territory where it is provided… Education must always be at the service of linguistic and cultural diversity and of harmonious relations between different language communities throughout the world.”39 Currently, disability remains a relatively negative concept. That includes Deaf people and sign language. The consciousness of linguistic rights should be cultivated among Deaf children through education and the cultural characteristics of sign language as a language should be understood by the public. At the same time, language education for the non-Deaf can improve public understanding of sign language and promote a deeper understanding of it in mainstream culture as much as possible, both of which are closely related to the rights and interests of Deaf people. In this stage of schooling, the process of acquiring sign language is also the process of forming the consciousness of linguistic rights. Therefore, in addition to imparting linguistic knowledge, language education in schools from the perspective of linguistic rights should also incorporate the education of consciousness of rights and multicultural education related to languages — especially minority languages and endangered languages, etc.
Sign language education for Deaf children, especially early sign language education, be it home education or school education, is not only an embodiment of Deaf people’s linguistic rights, but also a good attempt to uplift the social status of the marginalized Deaf people. Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states, “The education of the child shall be directed to: The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential… The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own…”40 Sign language education is undoubtedly an important communication tool and medium for the development of Deaf children’s personalities, talents and mental and physical abilities. Therefore, schools and families should work together to ensure that the lack or ineffectiveness of the tools of expression should not lead to injustice in education, and participation injustice and unfair treatment when they grow up.
(Translated by ZHUGE Wen)

* ZHENG Xuan ( 郑璇 ), Professor of Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, Member of the National Research Center for Sign Language and Braille.
** ZHAO Yongshuai ( 赵勇帅 ), Ph.D candidate of Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University.
1. The study of Deaf culture has been well documented in the West. The preliminary consensus among scholars is that Deaf culture exists widely in the Deaf community around the world, and it is a subculture under mainstream culture, including a unique set of language, behavior, customs, culture, arts, and values etc.,different from that of people with normal hearing.
2. Skutnabb-Kangas T & Phillipson R, Linguistic Human Rights; Overcoming Linguistic Discrimination (Berlin:Mouton de Gruyter, 1995).
3. Item 3.2.5 of the provisional agenda, One Hundred and fiftieth Session, Executive Board of UNESCO. World Conference on Linguistic Rights: Barcelona Declaration. PARIS, October 10, 1996. Original: French.
4. Ibid.
5. Guo Youxu. “Research on the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights”, Journal of Yunnan University (Law Edition) 6 (2016): 2-11.
6. He Shanhua. “Linguistic Rights and Discourse System in the West from the Perspective of Construction and Practice”, Chinese Social Sciences Today, May 26, 2020.
7. World Report on Disability 2011, Geneva: Global Health Organization.
8. World Federation of the Deaf Ordinary Member Survey. 2014.
9. Murray J., “Linguistic Human Rights Discourse in Deaf Community Activism”, 15 Sign Language Studies 4(2015): 379-410.
10. Haualand, H., and C. Allen. World Federation of the Deaf Global Survey Report. World Federation of the Deaf. 2009.
11. Murray J., “Linguistic Human Rights Discourse in Deaf Community Activism”, 15 Sign Language Studies 4(2015): 379-410.
12. World Federation of the Deaf, accessed December 2, 2020, https://wfdeaf.org/news/wfd-statement-onstandardized-sign-language/
13. Gu Dianqian et al, “An Investigation on Popularization and Research of Chinese Sign Language”, Chinese Journal of Special Education 4 (2005): 3-10.
14. Ding Yanling, “Research on Human Language Rights in China — Analysis and Prospects”, Journal of Political Science and Law 1 (2010): 50-58.
15. Maartje D., “The Legal Recognition of Sign Languages”, 15 Sign Language Studies 4 (2015): 498-506.
16. Jiang Dudu and Yang Jiejun, “The Status Quo and Improvement of Chinese Sign Language Legal System,”Disability Research 3 (2018): 71-77.
17. Ibid.
18. Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons, accessed December 2, 2020.http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/cl2435/201811/5eae4f9c3afa432285f04be42e50fc01.shtml.
19. Regulation on the Education of the Disabled, accessed December 2, 2020. http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2017-02/23/content_5170264.htm.
20. Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons, accessed December 2, 2020.http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/cl2435/201811/5eae4f9c3afa432285f04be42e50fc01.shtml
21. Order of the President of the People’s Republic of China (No.622), Regulation on the Construction of Barrier Free Environments, accessed December 2, 2020. http://www.gov.cn/flfg/2012-07/10/content_2179947.htm
22. Jiang Dudu and Yang Jiejun, “The Status Quo and Improvement of Chinese Sign Language Legal System,”Disability Research 3 (2018): 71-77.
23. Charlton J. I, Nothing about Us without Us: Disability Oppression and Empowerment (California: University of California Press, 2000), 21.
24. Murray J., “Linguistic Human Rights Discourse in Deaf Community Activism”, 15 Sign Language Studies 4(2015): 379-410.
25. Trovato S, “A Stronger Reason for the Right to Sign Languages”, 13 Sign Language Studies 3 (2013): 401-422.
26. Rawlings, B. and C. Jensema, Two Studies of the Families of Hearing-Impaired Children. Research Bulletin,5 Series R, no. 5 (Washington, DC: Gallaudet University, Office of Demographic Studies), 1987.
27. Haualand, H. and Holmstrom I, “When Language Recognition and Language shaming go hand in hand-sign language ideologies in Sweden and Norway”, deafness & education international 21 (2019): 2–3 and 99-115.
28. De Meulder, M, “The Legal Recognition of Sign Language”, 15 Sign Language Studies 4 (2015): 498 -506. 
29. Piller, I, Linguistic Diversity and Social justice (New York: Oxford University Press. 2016).
30. Gill, C.J, “Invisible Ubiquity: The Surprising Relevance of Disability Issues in Evaluation Plenary Address Given at the 1998 American Evaluation Association Conference”, 20 The American Journal of Evaluation 2 (1999): 279-287.
31. Gu Dianqian et al, “An Investigation on Popularization and Research of Chinese Sign Language”, Chinese Journal of Special Education, 4 (2005): 3-10.
32. Qu jiangzhi, “Confused Chinese Sign Language”, Disability in China 9 (2001): 42-43.
33. Gao Yuxiang and Gu Dingqian, “A Historical Review of the Development of Chinese Sign Language”,Contemporary Linguistics 1 (2013): 94-100.
34. Gu Dingqian, “Accelerating Standardization of Sign Language and Braille to Build Barrier-free Communication Environment”, Applied Linguistics 1 (2013): 19-20.
35. Ibid.
36. Mitchell, R.E. and Karchmer, M.A, “Chasing the Mythical Ten Percent: Parental Hearing Status of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students in the United States”, 4 Sign Language Studies 2 (2004): 138-163.
37. Haualand H. and Holmstrom I., “When Language Recognition and Language Shaming Go Hand in Handsign Language Ideologies in Sweden and Norway”, 21 Deafness & Education International S (2019): 99-115.
38. Deng Meng, Inclusive Education and Learning in Regular Classroom: Between Ideal and Reality (Wuhan:Central China Normal University Press, 2009).
39. Item 3.2.5 of the provisional agenda, 150th Session, Executive Board of UNESCO. World Conference on Linguistic Rights: Barcelona Declaration. PARIS, October 10, 1996. Original: French.
40. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, accessed December 5, 2020. https://www.un.org/zh/documents/treaty/files/A-RES44-25.shtml.
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