Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Arctic Territory May Recognize Inuit Sign Language

The Arctic Canada territory of Nunavut already recognizes four languages: English, French, Inuktitut and Innuinaqtun. Now the territory is considering legal status for two sign languages used by its deaf residents. While some Inuit learned American Sign Language (ASL) in southern schools, many deaf Inuit who never learned ASL communicate with Inuit Sign Language, a combination of hand signals, body language and facial expressions. At a workshop for deaf people and their families, Inuit from opposite ends of the territory found they could communicate with in a common language. "Watching people communicate, I found that, well, there did seem to be a very powerful language there," said Jamie MacDougall, a language specialist who researched and created the term, Inuit Sign Language. If the Inuit Sign Language becomes recognized, it would also create more services for deaf people.

See Arctic Inuit Arts at Free Spirit Gallery.

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