Sign Language

Signed languages are the natural languages of deaf people. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of different sign languages all over the world. In the Netherlands for example. Dutch Sign Language (NGT) is used, in France Langue de Signe Fran├žaise (LSF), while in India tens of different sign languages are used by different sign language communities.

Signed languages are 3-D languages with their own grammars and lexicons, different from spoken languages. They are rich and complex and can express anything, however abstract or imaginative. In much of the world sign languages have a history of being banned and discouraged. Learning to speak and lipread was the policy in most deaf schools until well into the 20th century, as it still is in large parts of the world even today. A major landmark was the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD adopted in 2004. The Convention recognized that sign languages are equal and equivalent to spoken languages and that the Deaf Community has its own unique culture. SIGNlab considers performances in sign language as strengthening Deaf culture and an artistic contribution to the empowerment of Deaf people as a cultural minority.