Advocates rally for sign language education
More must be done to help deaf and mute students in schools, they sayRally participants in Seoul call for sign language to be named an official second language in high schools
- ucanews.com reporter, Seoul
- June 15, 2012
A coalition of advocacy groups for disabled people yesterday rallied in the capital to urge the government to implement the teaching of sign language in the national curriculum as an official second language.
Park Kyung-seok, president of Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, told a crowd of about 50 people at the rally that the Education Ministry said sign language should be treated as any other language.
“As we learn English to talk with American people, we need to learn sign language to help us communicate with deaf and mute people [in our own country],” he said.
In South Korean high schools, English is taught as a mandatory “first foreign language,” while students are also asked to choose a second language from a group that includes Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and several European languages.
The coalition of advocates further urged the ministry to provide schools with sign language translators to better serve disabled students.
Park Heung-ki, president of the Daejeon Dream Center, told rally participants about a case in a primary school in Daejeon, where two deaf and mute students must attend courses without adequate translation services because of a lack of funding resources.
Park Hwan-ik, principal of the Daejeon Seongnam Elementary School, said yesterday that he hoped to find better trained translators but that he faces limitations under current educational legislation.
Current law stipulates that sign language translators are classified as assistant teachers, paid at a lower wage and lack long-term contracts.
A further problem is the availability of suitably trained translators.
The Korea Association for the Deaf, meanwhile, has said it will petition for a new law on sign language at the National Assembly that, if passed, would improve training of translators and make them more widely available.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare also announced yesterday that beginning in August, an amended law would stipulate that all public institutions and theaters with more than 1,000 seats would be required to provide sign language services or other special services to disabled people.
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