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Swiss Deaf Congress

The Swiss Deaf Federation hold its congress on September 23rd - 25th in Montreux. Our colleague Jihane Sfeir attended:

"Though I am familiar with Sign Language (as a student of this language) and with Sign Language Interpretation (thanks to the Swiss TV news), this was my first experience with Conference Interpretation with Sign Language and spoken languages. The setting was quite complicated: 3 teams of SL Interpreters for the 3 national languages (french, Italian and German) and 2 bilingual booths (oral intepretation) for Italian and German, with retour into French. On the stage there were huge screens for the SL Interpreters. I must say that the image quality was much better then what we usually get in our conferences. And there also was a bunch of « personal interpreters » who signed for short-sighted people or for deaf people who use International Sign Language. I was amazed to realize that it really works! Of course, as oral interpreters had to rely on SL Interpreters, the quality of relay depended on the quality of the SLIers, which varies from one interpreter to another, as always in our profession.


A few Highlights of the Congress:

  • One of the lecturers was Adam Kosa, the Hungarian deaf parliamentarian, member of the European Parliament. He used International Sign Language, which was interpreted into French Sign Language by a deaf interpreter, and, from there, into spoken French, German and Italian. As one of you already mentioned, his participation in the European Parliament is only made possible through SLI.

  • As the main theme of the Congress was the integration of deaf persons into the society, many speakers, be them deaf persons (school or university students, employees, members of deaf associations) or non-deaf (employers, teachers, community workers..) stressed the importance of SL interpretation and the dire need for SL Interpreters.

  • One of the recurrent points was the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which mention the right of deaf persons to professional interpreters. I know that the Interpretation Service in the UN Office in Geneva is thinking of the day when SLI will be requested in a UN Conference..."

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