Canadian Senate considers ASL/LSQ recognition after testimony by CAD President
On Wednesday, the Canadian Association of the Deaf President Frank Folino testified before a Senate committee in Ottawa for over two hours to answer questions and advocate for ASL/LSQ recognition to be amended in the pending Accessible Canada Act bill, which would be the “Canadian version” of the American with Disabilities Act.
This is the wording of the proposed amendment.
“All Deaf persons must have barrier-free access to full and equal participation in society, recognizing that American Sign Language (ASL) and lange des signs quebecoise (LSQ) are languages of persons who are Deaf in Canada.”
I was able to watch parts of Folino’s testimony through a live streaming platform on a Canadian government website.
[Clips of Folino’s testimony before Senate committee]
Alex: I was able to interview Folino after he finished the meeting on Wednesday.
Folino: I have an optimistic feeling. I felt open and it was a wonderful environment. They were very open-minded and willing to listen and ask questions. Yes, it was a lot they asked, but I was able to provide answers. I feel satisfied overall.
During Folino’s testimony, he mentioned that ASL/LSQ recognition would lead to more job opportunities for Deaf people. I asked him to expand on that.
Folino: There are many great opportunities. For interpreting, we could start employment opportunities and growth for federal jobs. For example, we want to see the Prime Minister of Canada, during a live address, stand with Deaf interpreters for ASL and LSQ. Secondly, it would enable video interpreting for federal services. Examples are Passport Canada, employment insurance, and various federal services for Canadians. When a Deaf person who is employed on the federal level and has a video interpreter, a hearing client can come and communicate for things such as a new passport with VRI interpreting. This is a federal government service. This means employment opportunities for deaf people. That is the purpose of the bill, to achieve a barrier-free Canada. This means we must break down barriers at the federal level.
Alex: Thank you for sharing, Folino.
I got information from Lisa Anderson, another Deaf leader and activist, that the Senate committee has unanimously passed a motion to amend recognition of ASL/LSQ and Indigenous Sign Languages in two places in the ACA.
What is next? The amendment will go before the full Senate for a vote. If it goes well, it will then return to the House of Commons.
I want to mention that during Folino’s testimony, there was one funny moment when a senator proposed that, instead of “American Sign Language,” they change it to “American Canadian Sign Language.”
I could see that the testimony was a rare moment for lawmakers to truly listen and learn about Deaf people’s linguistic and cultural values and needs.
Good luck to CAD and the Deaf community there as they await the amendment’s progress.
Video of Testimony: http://bit.ly/2PHFyn9