Iran’s Deaf Community Launches Campaign Urging Government to End Discrimination
Members of Iran’s deaf and hard of hearing community have launched a campaign urging the Iranian government to end systematic discrimination against their community by following steps that would fulfill Iran’s domestic and international obligations.
The campaign was launched on October 2, 2018, at a gathering at Tehran’s Milad Tower with about 2,000 deaf and hard of hearing attendees and some government officials, all of whom expressed support for the campaign.
The campaign was also backed by a number of Iranian non-profit organizations for the deaf, including the Iran Society of Deaf People’s Families and the National Center of the Deaf.
A number of deaf Iranians also posted video messages in sign language in support of the campaign on the Telegram social media network.
In a statement, the campaign called on the three branches of the Iranian government and all government agencies to take the necessary steps to “protect and promote Iranian sign language and the culture of the deaf.”
The signatories also demanded “the immediate drafting and ratification of a bill to support Iranian sign language” by taking the following steps:
1) Recognizing Iranian sign language as an official language and allocating government resources to teach the language in accordance with Article 15 of the Constitution.
2) Staffing state offices with sign language interpreters to assist the deaf and hard of hearing the same way people with physical or mental disabilities are given state assistance for nursing services. Sign language interpreters should also be provided social benefits such as healthcare, retirement and tax breaks.
3) Preparing and widely distributing unified Iranian sign language symbols.
4) Including sign language interpreters on state television programs.
5) Certifying sign language interpreters and providing them with social benefits.
6) Requiring all state bodies, including courts, police stations, hospitals and other major public service providers to employ sign language interpreters.
7) Using visual software to communicate in sign language through text messages at public offices and emergency service centers such as medical facilities and fire stations.
The state-funded Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that deaf people throughout the country have joined the campaign by signing the statement.
Iran joined the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) 10 years ago but the government has yet to take steps to honor its commitments in regards to deaf people.
Even Iran’s Law for the Protection of the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, passed in April 2018, does not sufficiently address the needs of the deaf. Only does its Article 21 urge the state-funded Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) organization to provide subtitles for the benefit of the deaf.