Deaf Londoners Preparing for the Protest at the Italian Embassy [Crossposted from Grumpy Old Deafies]

Deaf Londoners Preparing for the Protest at the Italian Embassy

See what Londoners are doing to support their Italian Kith and Kin. Go to Deaf Londoners Preparing for the Protest at the Italian Embassy

If you are an Aussie and are in London, they hope to see you there? Here are details of the protests / vigil that I know are happening tomorrow (London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Washington DC, Berlin).

If you have not done so already, please sign this international petition. It will be handed into the Embassies TODAY (Australian Time). Means you still have about nine hrs.

See also:
Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society: Vigil at the Italian Embassy, Dublin
Note from Terry Riley, Chair BDA to those Protesting
Press Release from the Belfast Protest in Support of the Italian Deaf Community
Italian Embassy Events on Wednesday 25 May 2011
How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery
Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday
Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama
Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!
International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community [Reposted From Grumpy Old Deafies]

How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
[Reposted From Grumpy Old Deafies]

As I have previously blogged, the Parlamento Italiano (Parliament of Italy) tomorrow holds a crucial debate/vote on whether sign language is recognised in law as LIS (rather than LMG). See links at the bottom of this post, if you need to catch up.

You can help by:

1. Write to the Italian Parliament direct. Note there is not much time, debate is Tuesday 24 May (CEST). You can modify other letters or the petition wording.

  • Go to this webpage
  • Click on the ‘Scrivi al deputato’ for each person (contact that person)
  • ‘oggetto’ means subject matter, so you would need to put: Riconoscimento della lingua dei segni italiana (LIS)
  • Next box, put your e-mail address
  • Add the text of your letter to the bigger box
  • Send and repeat for the other contacts

2. If you are outside Italy, please sign this petition. This petition will be handed into the Italian Embassy in London on Wednesday. Also when you sign the petition, an automatic letter is e mailed to the Italian Embassy.

3. If you want to contact the Italian Embassy in London direct, the e-mail is: ambasciata.londra (at)

4. If you are an Italian National, please sign this.

5. Attend the protest at the Italian Embassy in London on Wednesday. More details here.

6. If you are in Northern Ireland, or indeed Ireland there is a protest at the Italian Consulate in Belfast. More information here.

7. ‘Like’ LIS: SI – LMG: NO – La nostra preziosa Lingua dei Segni Italiana on Facebook.

Please show the Italian Deaf Community your support. No LMG, forza LIS!


THANX to ALISON and all our friends in the UK for getting the ball rolling


See also:

Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery

Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday

Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama

Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!

International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

Please Sign The International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

Please sign this petition, against Italy’s moves to downgrade sign language to being less than a language / mime and gesture.

I am asking all those of you who don’t sign, but respect our right to sign and access via sign, to show your support and respect by signing this petition. Also, it would be helpful, if you could spread the word amongst your networks.

Also on Wednesday 25th May, John Walker and Marco Nardi will be at the Italian Embassy (14 Three Kings Yard, London W1K 4EH) at 12noon. They would love people to join them, in support.

Support Italy. No LMG, forza LIS!


See Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language! for more information

Worldwide Campaign

BSL version here.

A Bristol University Centre that has been a beacon and an inspiration to Deaf people all over the world is facing savage staffing cuts which, experts say, would make it ineffective – and with it we may lose one of Britain’s proudest claims to worldwide academic leadership.

For more than thirty years, the Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) has blazed a trail for others to follow in the fields of Sign Language Studies, Deaf Studies and interpreter training. It has a list of firsts for which most universities, let alone small departments, would give their eye teeth:

  • First funded research on sign language in the UK
  • First use of the term Deaf Studies, now widely used all over the world
  • First textbook on British Sign Language – still in use
  • First full-time training programme for sign language interpreters
  • First BSc & MSc in Deaf Studies
  • First Professorship in Deaf Studies
  • First Deaf person to head an Academic Centre in Europe
  • First full-time University training programme for Deaf people taught in sign language

In all, the Centre has chalked up nearly thirty firsts in thirty years – a return on (very modest) investment almost unequalled in the
increasingly bang-for-your-buck world of higher education.

But now, the CDS is threatened with cutbacks affecting 75% of staff. According to everyone who works there, this will make it almost impossible to continue teaching beyond the next couple of years. And students who have already embarked on courses such as the world-famous BSc in Deaf Studies may receive an increasingly inadequate tuition service, because staff will be so overstretched.

“This is a breach of trust – in fact a breach of contract – with those of us who came here in good faith because of the Centre’s reputation”, said one student. “I came here to learn from the best Deaf and hearing staff and go on to become a sign language interpreter. Now they’re planning to get rid of most of them.”

On Monday 10 May, the University Senate took the first step towards implementing the cuts. The decision now passes to a meeting of the University Council on Friday 14 May. The University has to make cuts of £15m per annum to its budget. The actual savings by removing the Deaf Studies undergraduate programme (staff costs minus the student fee income) is not much more than £100k per annum – hardly enough to consider putting this programme at risk and flying in the face of the University’s own Diversity and Public Engagement aims.

It is widely felt that the CDS has been targeted because it is seen in some quarters as a vulnerable minority interest. “Other departments who don’t want to bear the brunt themselves may just sit on their hands, hoping they might escape the worst if the CDS takes the biggest hit”, said one supporter.

If so, this would be seen in many quarters as not only cowardly, but against the law. Under the Disability Discrimination Act, all public bodies have a Disability Equality Duty to carry out a disability equality impact assessment of the community of any measures they take. There is strong evidence that Bristol University has hardly begun this process and is potentially acting contrary to the Code of Practice.

In fact, where so many Deaf people are concerned, far from rushing decisions through Senate at short notice, there is a requirement to allow extra consultation time because of the difficulties of communication. Ironically, the CDS has done more than almost anywhere over the years to improve communication and access for Deaf people.

But if the authorities acted at short notice, they must have been taken aback at the speed with which the campaign to Save Deaf Studies took off, once word leaked out. Within four days a petition started by a third-year undergraduate has gathered nearly two-and-a-half-thousand signatures from Deaf people and universities all over the world.

The CDS has always been a pioneer on a global scale. In 1996 it ran the first UK deaf-led project based in Africa – in Northern Uganda – funded by Oxfam and Action on Disability and Development. It has also pioneered Europe-wide initiatives. In April this year it launched a multi-million euro project in conjunction with police and fire services to give deaf people direct access to 999 services through videophones. Now all the effort that the team at CDS have put in over the decades is being repaid with an international outcry against the University’s cuts plan.

Academics from as far afield as Australia, Finland, Germany, Canada and the United States have leapt to the defence of the beleaguered CDS, with comments on the petition website and letters directed to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas.

Two Assistant Professors from Utah Valley University in the USA wrote:

“.targeting programs such as Centre for Deaf Studies for budgetary cuts. stems from inability of majority culture to recognize and understand the significant contributions studies of minority cultures have towards the academic discipline of Humanities. those programs should be celebrated and promoted, rather than cut. Please reconsider before you implement such a disastrous plan – disastrous to greater understanding of humanity, disastrous to promotion of equity of humans worldwide – and disastrous harm to Deaf people everywhere.”

More comments from all over Britain and around the world can be found here on our website and the petition, at Save BSc Deaf Studies Campaign Petition.

Thirty years ago a beacon for the promotion of Deaf Studies was lit in Bristol. Now the campaign to save it is spreading like wildfire round the world.

For further information contact:


This is a cross post, but please take the time to read, and respond.

The University of Bristol is currently considering plans to close the CDS’ long-running BSc degree in Deaf Studies and other parts of CDS’ work.


This is said to be for financial and academic reasons, that it is expensive and does not fit faculty priorities.

What would this mean?

Around 75 % of CDS staff will lose their jobs, including most Deaf staff. It will reduce CDS to a ‘rump’. We believe the consequences of these proposals will have a disastrous impact on Deaf and hearing people in many ways. These include :

  • exacerbating the existing crisis in the UK Deaf community caused by the acute shortage of interpreters,
  • negative effects on the present students,
  • severe reduction of CDS’s ability to continue its 30 year tradition of initiating and supporting progressive academic and other Deaf-related developments, including lobbying for Deaf rights and achieving equality with hearing people,
  • retardation of the global development of quality Deaf Studies work,
  • negative impact on Deaf people’s access to a wide range of vital information.

Under UK law, the University is required to carry out an assessment of the effect of its planned actions on Deaf/disabled people, and on the community in general. It is clear that you, the wider community have not been consulted in this way.

Your help is needed

So we ask if you can help this campaign. Please as soon as possible send a letter to the University decision makers. To express your own views about the value of CDS’s work. You would need to do this in the next few days, a decision is being made this week.

Please feel free to use headed paper from your own organisations if appropriate. Please also circulate this email widely and ask others to do so.

If you need detail about CDS history and list of achievements to help you write your letter of support, you can download them here: CDS History and CDS History: Detailed

In your letter, please do not mention individual CDS staff by name, as this may have a negative effect.

People to contact

Professor Eric Thomas
Vice Chancellor
University of Bristol
Senate House
Tyndall Avenue
Bristol BS8 1TH

Professor David Clarke
Deputy Vice Chancellor
(at the same address)

E mail:

Please copy any letters to: so we can monitor correspondence.

Thank you for your help. Together we can try and protect the global development of Deaf Studies from other similar threats in the coming wider financial crises.

Also, you can sign the petition, keep up to date with our Twitter stream and add a Twibbon to Your Twitter Avatar.