Dear Colleagues and Friends,
On behalf of the organizers of the
International Symposium, 'Sign Language and Deaf Culture', I
have great pleasure in inviting you to participate in this
Symposium to be held in Zagreb, Croatia, 3rd - 5th May, 2001.
The overall aim of the Symposium is the promotion of Deaf culture
and sign language. We hope to achieve this by presenting a genuine
opportunity for discussion, debate and the sharing of experiences
and explorations of how to realise the human rights of the Deaf
community. In exploring the 'true' needs of Deaf people this
Symposium will be part of the overall purpose of working for the
acceptance in society of Deaf people as a valued minority cultural
Unfortunately, at present, the pathological view of deafness is
still dominant. Prejudice and ignorance are everyday realities for
the majority of Deaf people. Sign language is still considered by
many to be a primitive mode of communication.
Today, in Croatia for example, Deaf people still cannot choose
between methods of education, levels of education, (if they do not
have 'oral' skills) communication systems, support services,
access to skilled interpreters, comprehensible TV programs,
technical devices etc.
The situation for Deafblind people is often even worse. Levels of
ignorance amongst professional service providers, and the
attitudes of society in general are woefully inadequate if the
human rights of, and services for Deafblind people are to be fully
recognised and provided. The rights and provision of appropriate
support to this group are in urgent need of attention and
We feel that it is very important to address these issues within
the Symposium - to 'awaken' the hearing community, as well as Deaf
people themselves, to the human, educational and cultural rights
that should be ascribed to all Deaf and Deafblind people.
An objective of the Symposium is that this 'awakening' should
embrace political, ethical, professional issues; and also start to
explore 'practical' ways of moving forward, particularly within
and with the Deaf community in Croatia.
An important aspect of this is to explore the barriers to the
overall respect of human differences, particularly from the
perspective of why the 'majority' hearing population both
generally, and in terms of 'professional services' and attitudes
often create and erect the barriers that deny the rights of Deaf
The programme for the Symposium will include presentations of the
latest scientific research, professional practice and individual's
experiences, through plenary lectures presented by international
experts in their fields; theme papers; roundtable discussions;
workshops, and poster presentations.
The different themes will encourage discussion and analysis in the
areas of :
Please note that the Symposium will be
conducted to facilitate the maximum involvement, understanding and
contributions of all participants - Deaf, Deafblind and hearing.
We hope that you will be able to join us at this International
Symposium - Sign Language and Deaf Culture and share with us this
opportunity to begin to 'make a difference'.
Finally in addition to the formal aspects of the Symposium, we
also hope that you will enjoy the opportunity to spend some time
in the beautiful city of Zagreb, and the warm hospitality that we
extend to you.
See you in Zagreb in May 2001!
Chair, Symposium Scientific Committee
October 1, 2000 - preregistration
March 31st, 2000 - papers submission
March 31st, 2001 - registration