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March 30, 2004

Both sign languages recognised in NI

From: U.TV, UK - Mar 30, 2004

British and Irish sign languages have joint recognition in Northern Ireland, it was confirmed today.

By:Press Association

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy announced the Government would work closely with representatives of the deaf community on improving access to public services.

During a reception at Hillsborough Castle to mark the success of the European Year of People with Disabilities, Mr Murphy noted sign language was used by 4,500 of the 17,000 people in the province who are severely or profoundly deaf.

''It is also used by a significant number of their families and friends,'' he said.

''As well as helping to raise awareness of the particular requirements of deaf people, this recognition will also see the 11 Northern Ireland government departments joining forces to work proactively in partnership with representatives of the deaf community to develop ideas for improving access to public services.''

The Northern Ireland Secretary said among the improvements which could be introduced were the provision of more sign language tutors, better interpretation services and the installation of specialist equipment in public offices.

He said: ''Effective communication is an essential tool in everyday life.

''Whether it is through the medium of English, Irish, Ulster Scots, the language of our minority ethnic communities or sign language, people should always be encouraged to interact with each other.

''As we strive to build a truly inclusive society in Northern Ireland, it is therefore important to recognise the different languages which are used and to give them the respect they deserve.''

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