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Parliamentary questions
23 March 2016
E-001205/2016
Answer given by Ms Thyssen on behalf of the Commission

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(1), to which both the EU and Member States are parties and which is to be implemented according to their respective competences, emphasises the access to information for all citizens. According to Article 9 and 21, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others to information and communications and they shall also take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion(2).

Concerning sign languages, although these are not official languages of the EU institutions, they constitute an important part of Europe’s linguistic diversity, which is cherished and promoted by the EU. There is a trend at EU level to make sign languages more visible at events. Through its Lifelong Learning Programme (2007-13), the Commission financed several projects aimed at making communication easier for the deaf and hard of hearing(3). The Commission also financed a pilot project of the European Union of the Deaf on potential technological solutions to improve independent communication and interaction between the deaf or hard of hearing and EU institutions(4).

The Commission is also working to make its buildings and websites more accessible. Its interpreting service(5) provides sign language interpretation on request for the Commission(6).

Concerning television coverage via Europe by Satellite, many events are broadcasted live which makes it difficult to include sign language. However for the corporate video productions, the Commission is aiming at a more systematic use of subtitling to enable the deaf and hard of hearing viewers to follow Commission videos.

(1)Article 21 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32010D0048&rid=1 The UN Convention is to be implemented by the EU and the Member States according to their respective competences.
(2)including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas and through all forms of communication of their choice.
(3)See for instance ‘SIGNS — Beyond signs in the city’ ( http://signsinthecity.net ); ‘SIGNS2GO — British sign language for foreign signers’ ( http://www.signs2go.eu ); ‘DEAF PORT — Developing European language portfolio for the deaf’ ( http://www.deafport.eu).
(4)The final results of the project will be available during 2016. More information is available at http://www.eud.eu/projects/past-projects/insign-project/
(5)Directorate-General for Interpretation: see http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/scic/
(6)As well as the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions for around ten events a year.

Last updated: 31 March 2016Legal notice