Language & Communication22nd May 2014

Costa Rican President commits to Signed Speeches

Incoming Costa Rica President commits to sign language interpretation of his events

by Sarah Lawrence

As a deaf woman, I know that parts of UK society have a long way to go to be deaf aware. They have even further to go to act on that awareness. But, being typically British, I suppose I always thought that the UK would be amongst the most responsive countries when it comes to valuing deaf people. With that in mind I was interested to read about developments in Costa Rica, a country in Latin America, where the incoming President Luis Guillermo Solís’ announced during his inauguration speech on May 8, 2014 that he would be using a sign language interpreter at all of the events he was speaking at. 

Making the announcement with Estefanía Carvajal, a Costa Rican sign language interpreter, by his side, the President had been accompanied by her during his successful presidential campaign. During the speech the president announced that Carvajal would join his press team at Casa Presidencial.

Carvajal overcame any embarrassment about talking about herself in public as she signed the announcement of her employment on stage during a press conference at the presidential offices in Zapote.

The president said that Carvajal would interpret alongside him during public speaking events and during activities to discuss disability policy. Casa Presidencial said it was the first time that a Costa Rican administration offered simultaneous sign language interpretation during its events.

Solís said that the decision was a “sign of respect and recognition of the rights” of the deaf community here, which numbers some 70,000 Costa Ricans.

In another forward thinking way, the President set a new world standard for the leaders of countries around the world in valuing deaf people by announcing that he had introduced a new YouTube channel dedicated to the deaf community. 

Making such a public commitment, the President said, “This is one more expression of our commitment and our respect for the human rights of all populations in our country."

Let's hope a modern, forward thinking, supposedly altruistic country like the UK can make a similar commitment. 

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Language & Communication

22nd May 2014