Bulgaria’s Parliament approved on January 21 the law on sign language, recognising it as an official language, a breakthrough in deaf people’s rights.
According to the new law, people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Bulgaria are entitled to free Sign language interpreter services. The deaf community’s cultural and language identity is recognized, and an attitude of respect to them will be encouraged in the broader community.
The national budget will finance the activities and services through the Labor and Social Policy Ministry, other competent institutions and medical establishments, and European and international programs.
The leaders of central and local administrative units will have until the end of 2022 to roll out administrative services for people with hearing disabilities.
Bulgarian sign language will be available in kindergartens and schools, and a 13-member Bulgarian Sign Language Council will be set up at the Education Ministry.
Sign language teachers will have a master’s degree in Bulgarian Language and Literature with supplementary sign language training, and universities will be required to provide such training. University students with hearing disabilities will be entitled to 60 hours of free sign-language interpretation per semester.