Communication and Language

This page features disability news on Communication and Language from the Debrief Library. See also news on other subjects.



People need to understand information to live their lives independently: about easy-to-read. (Mar, Inclusion Europe)


Working for inclusivity, accessibility: launch of a new Talking Books initiative to make educational texts available in audio format. (Dec, The Reporter Ethiopia)


An online library for blind and print disabled with a collection of nearly 700,000 books in DAISY format combining audio and text. (Nov, Kashmir Images)


Book Famine: How policies in Nigeria limit visually impaired persons’ access to books. (Jan, Premium Times)

South Africa

Ending the book famine: Copyright guide launched for blind and visually impaired. (Jan, Gadget)

United States

DeafBlind Communities May Be Creating a New Language of Touch. “Protactile began as a movement for autonomy and a system of tactile communication. Now, some linguists argue, it is becoming a language of its own” (May, New Yorker)

Sign Languages


Evidence for superior encoding of detailed visual memories in deaf signers. “Our findings add to evidence showing that deaf signers are at an advantage [... in the] retention of detailed visual memories over the longer term.” (May, Scientific Reports)

World Federation of the Deaf celebration of international mother language day: "by specifically recognizing the right of deaf people to have access in all areas of their lives to their Mother Language, sign language." (Feb)

The Global Digital Library has books available in three sign-languages, namely Cambodian, Kenyan and Rwandan.


The art of interpreting standup comedy in sign language. (Jun, the Guardian)


How Indigenous sign language is helping this woman connect with her culture (Jul, CBC)


In drafting of the new constitution sign-language has been recognised as an official language (Mar, UN Special Envoy on Twitter)


Numerals in Egyptian Sign Language from a Typological Perspective. (Oct, North African Linguistics)

Fingerspelling Systems in Egyptian Sign Language (Jun, North African Linguistics)


The Vulnerability of Emerging Sign Languages. An article on how Kufr Qassem Sign Language is merging with Israeli Sign Language as its users show a preference towards ISL. (link to pdf, Feb, MDPI)


Deaf Persons Open A Centre To Promote Use Of Kenya Sign Language. (Mar, Kenya News Agency)


Supporting deaf learners in Nepal via Sustainable Development Goal 4: Inclusive and equitable quality education in sign languages. (Nov, Int. Journal of Speech-Language Pathology)

Nepal’s first PhD candidate from the deaf community campaigns to promote Sign language (May, Nepali Times)

The eye and the other: Language and ethics in deaf Nepal (Mar, American Anthropologist)

Solomon Islands

Trainings for deaf and hearing people in Australian Sign Language to go out “into remote communities” to teach sign language. (Jul, RNZ)

South Africa

South African Sign Language set to become official language (May, Disability Insider)


Reasonable accommodation for Deaf persons on why provision of a sign language interpreter needs to be accompanied by further measures. (Mar, IDA)

United Arab Emirates

How to sing in sign language: meet the interpreter joining Mohammed Abdu on stage (Jun, The National News)

United Kingdom

Work to be done on census figures for BSL: discusses methodology and estimates 150,000 BSL signers in the country. (Nov, BDA)

Sign language used in court as deaf jurors with own interpreters used for first time in England. (Sep, Daily Mail)

Sign Language is My Language a series of “new perspectives on the experience of being deaf in 21st-century Britain.” (Sep, BBC)

A Sociolinguistic History of British Sign Language in Northern Ireland. "The study shows how the Protestant schools played an important role in the transmission of BSL in the island of Ireland." (Mar, Sign Language Studies)

United States

Crip Linguistics Goes to School:

“Because the school environment provides another way for deaf children to acquire language, professional signed language fluency is critical. Yet, in other second language acquisition contexts, fluency is not necessary for effective teaching and often highly racialized. If perceived fluency is often dependent on proximity to whiteness, and language fluency is not necessary for effective teaching, then why is it necessary to require professionals to be fluent in signed languages before teaching and working with deaf children?” (Feb, Languages)

Native American sign language arrives at the Super Bowl. (Feb, Washington Post)

How ASL performer Justina Miles stole the show at Super Bowl LVII. (Feb, CNN)

Why Sign Language Was Banned in America part of a video series exploring sign language. (Oct, Storied, PBS)

How These Sign Language Experts Are Bringing More Diversity to Theater “As productions increasingly include characters and perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, deaf and hearing people who translate the shows for deaf audiences are trying to keep up.” (Jan, New York Times)

How Deaf and Hearing Friends Co-Navigate the World: “friendterpreting” and the everyday ways people communicate. (Aug, Sapiens)

The Need For Black Sign Language Interpreters In Hip-Hop (Jul, Okayplayer)

How Sign Language Evolves as Our World Does. (Jul, NYT)


Left out of society: Vanuatu’s deaf community push for national sign language. (Dec, the Guardian)



World Blind Union calls for increased access to braille on World Braille Day. “Despite obligations arising from international and national law, we know many blind people lack access to braille itself, to appropriate training in braille, and to technologies that facilitate the use of braille”. (Jan, World Blind Union)

The UN international World Braille Day (4 Jan, UN)


Braille: accessibility improves in Brazil, but still needs to advance. Almost one in four blind Brazilians are illiterate. (Jan, Agência Brasil)


New doors open for the visually impaired a feature on use of Braille in China. (Aug, China Daily)


A new video on the importance of Braille. (Jan, European Blind Union)


Thirukkural and other Tamil literary works to be available in Braille script. (Oct)


Feature on the Kenya Institute of Special Education's work on Braille. (Jan, Star)

South Africa

Concourt rules that Copyright Act is unconstitutional. “Blind and visually impaired people, prevented from converting written material to braille or other accessible formats without the permission of copyright holders, can now do so following a ruling by the Constitutional Court.” (Sep, GroundUp)

South Asia

Seeing with fingertips: essay on the history and variations in Braille, including how they are used to render different scripts and languages. (Mar, Himal Southasian)


January 4 World Braille Day photoessay on braille in Turkey and around the world. (In Turkish, Jan, TRT Haber)

United Kingdom

The Politics of Braille

"These days the argument for and against Braille continues in several arenas. Blind people are divided in regards to its usefulness, schools debate whether it is worth recruiting qualified teachers, and governments fail to set aside funding to either train those teachers or fund their employment in local authorities. ‘Has technology replaced Braille?’ is a question I hear thrown around by the media more often than I should, usually accompanied by an article about a technology that will revolutionise how blind people read, rendering Braille unnecessary. It has not failed to escape me that whilst I’ve seen countless such articles, Braille is still firmly in place as the writing system used by blind people globally." (Jan, Catch These Words)