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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues for specific actions needed for language planning and language policies involving sign languages and Deaf communities, based on the understanding of what sign languages are, who the signers are, where they sign, and the sign language transmission and maintenance mechanisms of the Deaf community. The first section presents an overview of sign languages and their users, highlighting that sign languages are often used in contexts where most people use spoken languages. The second section addresses the functions, roles, and status of sign languages in relation to spoken languages, as well as the relationship between Deaf communities and hearing society. The medical view of deafness, which has a significant impact on language policies for Deaf people, is critically considered. The third section offers examples of language policies, especially related to the use of sign languages in education, and an agenda for future work on sign language policy and planning.

Keywords: Deaf community, language, language planning, language policy, sign language, education

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