National Sign Languages
- Vlaamse Gebarentaal, VGT
In English: Flemish Sign Language
Language Status: 5 (Developing). Recognized language (2006, Parliamentary decree, 15 February).
- La Langue des Signes de Belgique Francophone, LSFB
Flemish Sign Language is recognised in a Decree from 2006 (Decreet houdende de erkenning van de Vlaamste Gebarentaal):
'Flemish Sign Language is hereby recognised.' (Article 2)
French Belgian Sign Language was recognised in a Decree from 2003 (Decret rélatif à la reconnaissance de la langue des signes). Article 1 states:
The recognition decree regulates the establishment of an advisory committee. Its main tasks are similar to the Flemish decree and include advising the Wallonian government."
"On 25 November 2003, the Belgian Moniteur published the text of a Decree dated 22 October 2003 on the recognition of sign language. Article 1 of the Decree provides “that the sign language of French-speaking Belgium shall be recognised, and this language shall be the language of visual gesture specific to the hearing-impaired population of the French-speaking Community”. Article 2 of that Decree set up an advisory board on sign language with the function of submitting to the government, of its own motion or on request, opinions and proposals on all issues relating to the use of sign language.
Training for parents
The French-speaking Community’s Promotion Sociale system offers Belgian-French Sign Language courses, but these are often unsuited to parents’ needs, particularly as not many parents have access to the reduction of working hours that is normally part of the Promotion Sociale package.
However, the courses are very popular and many institutions include Belgian-French Sign Language as one of their courses. One consequence of this, in view of the lack of qualified deaf teachers, is that the system engages deaf persons with no basic training in language teaching. FFSB is unable to intervene with the organising bodies of these institutions.
More and more parents meet the deaf community in order to familiarise themselves with deaf culture and Belgian-French Sign Language but many others opt for PLC, which is much easier to learn."
"Sign language for deaf people has no officially recognised status. There are no government measures to encourage media to make their services accessible for persons with disabilities but there are government measures to make other forms of public information services available."
"The Parliament of French-speaking Belgium recognised LSFB (French-Belgian Sign Language) in a decree of October 2003. This recognition entails: a cultural (symbolical) recognition and the foundation of a commission that will advise the Government of the French Community in all matters related to LSFB.
In Décret relatif à la reconnaissance de la langue des signes (Decree on the recognition of the sign language), from three possible legal interpretations of the term 'recognition', the following one was retained: "It concerns a symbolic recognition that goes hand in hand with a general measure, permitting every minister to take action in fields relative to his authority."
Number of Deaf Sign Language Users
- Flanders: 6,500 (EUD website, December 2016)
- Walloon: 4.000 (EUD website, December 2016)
National Sign Language (Research) Centre