National sign language: Chilean Sign Language, LSCh (Spanish “Lengua de Señas Chilena”).
How many people use LSCh: 7.425 (FONADIS 2004).
Do exist descriptions of LSCh? Some grammar papers, one dictionary and some teaching materials are available.
Is the sign language in the country legally recognised? Yes, since 2010.
Are there schools for the deaf in the country? Yes, around 20. Firtst school: 1852.
Bilingual education for the deaf available? Yes, in some schools.
Are there deaf associations? Many. First association: 1926.
Are there certified sign language interpreters? Yes.
UN-Convention and its Protocol already signed and ratified? Yes.
According to the National Survey of Impairment of 2004 (FONADIS 2004), 292.720 Chileans had hearing impairment, from which a total of 7.425 used the “sign language”. Information registered in the 2008 Report of the World Federation of the Deaf does not coincide with the latter. According to this report, 66.524 deaf lived in Chile by 2008 (WFD&SNAD 2008:16). In this report does not take into consideration the figures offered by FONADIS in the 2004 Survey (cfr. WFD&SNAD 2008:44, Tabla 7.3.3).
The Article 26 of the Law 20.422, promulgated February 3rd 2010, states: “Sign language is recognized as the natural means of communication of the deaf population” (Se reconoce la lengua de señas como medio de comunicación natural de la comunidad sorda). For some sector of the deaf community of the country, what it is established by the Law 20.422 does not mean a recognition of the LSCh (see Corporation de Sordos de Valparaiso -in Spanish).
There is a LSCh dictionary as L2, published in 2009, that contains around 3.000 entries. This work is available online (in Spanish), and can be downloaded in a PDF format through this link.
1852: The first deaf school in the country is founded in Santiago. It was a public school addressed exclusively to boys (Oviedo 2008 and Caiceo 2010).
1854: It is opened in Santiago a school for deaf girls (Oviedo 2008).
1858: Rosario Vargas, a teacher from Santiago, presents to the Universidad de Chile, looking for support, a manuscript written by her containing a teaching method for deaf children (see Oviedo 2008).
1905: The story of Luis Albaro, a deaf man from Taltal who did an involuntary trip around the world aboard of an Italian vessel is published by a newspaper in the USA.
Around 1900: A group of deaf people gathers regularly at the Plaza de Armas in Santiago.
1913: The first deaf organization in the country is founded, the Sociedad de Sordomudos de Chile (Chilean Society of Deaf-and-dumb).
1926: The Asociación de Sordomudos de Chile (Association of the Deaf-and-dumb of Chile) is created.
1996: The Agrupación Chilena de Instructores e Intérpretes del Lenguaje de Señas” (Chilean Aggrupation of Sign Language Trainers and Interpreters) is created.
2008: The Federación Nacional de Sordos (National Federation of the Deaf) is created.
There are registries about meetings of deaf people in the Plaza de Armas in Santiago de Chile from around the year 1900. The first association of the deaf in the country is founded in 1913 in the capital city, Santiago. It was called Society of the deaf-and-dumb of Chile, (Sociedad de Sordomudos de Chile) and it was sponsored by Robert Kelly Grey. This organization was later re-founded in 1926 with the name Association of deaf-and-dumb of Chile, (Asociación de Sordomudos de Chile) and it was also directed by R. Kelly Grey (Burad, s.d.). The picture on the left shows R. Kelly Grey – Courtesy of the ASOCH.
There are around 29 regional associations across the country, and two national federations (the National Confederation of Deaf of Chile (Confederación Nacional de Sordos de Chile”, and the National Sporting Federation of Deaf of Chile, “Federación Nacional Deportiva de Sordos de Chile”). Due to the closing of the Confederation of Not-Hearing People of Chile (Confederación de No Oyentes de Chile) the Association of the Deaf of Chile (Asociación de Sordos de Chile) took on the duties the representation of the country before the World Federation of Deaf (see WFD, List of Members).
The Chilean Government offers multiple types of support to the deaf, covering social services and some financial support for individuals (there is a pension for disability, cfr. WFD&SNAD 2008:51), as well as for organizations (such as project financing, cfr. WFD&SNAD 2008:51). The 2008 Report of the World Deaf Federation in its Tables 7.4.8-12. states that Chilean deaf have access to all political and social rights as the rest of the population, at least according to the five criterion evaluated in the report (right to vote, to acquire a driving license, to get married, to procreation and to adopt), (cfr. WFD&SNAD 2008:51). However, The Association of Deaf of Chile estimates by 2008, that the local government does not recognized deaf people in equal conditions in regards to the rest of the citizens (cfr. WFD&SNAD2008:46, Table 7.4.1)
The first two public deaf schools were established by the national government during the time of President Manuel Montt in 1852 (exclusive for boys) and 1854 (school for girls) (see Oviedo 2008). Nowadays, the existence of 20 deaf schools, both public and private, are reported across the country (Personal communication with Andrea González, 2011).
Education for deaf is available at all educational levels, from kindergarden to college, including technical formation (cfr. WFD&SNAD 2008:19). Among the deaf population of the country there is a discontent due to the quality of education available for them, which is rated as “very poor” (cfr. WFD&SNAD 2008:61).
Two of every five hearing-impaired people have not completed primary education. Only 6% of people with hearing-impairment has accessed to university education (FONADIS, 2004).
There is some access to bilingual education in the country (WFD&SNAD 2008:20).
Chile signed the Convention in 2007 and ratified its Protocol in 2008 (UN-Enable).
Availability of easy-to-read-texts:
We have no information in this regard.
Availability of official documents in sign language:
At the time of publication of the most recent Report of the World Deaf Federation, there are no official documents available in sigh language (WFD&SNAD 2008:55).
A limited amount of subtitling and interpreting services to the LSCh for deaf is available in the public and private television in the country; the law dictates a minimum of 30 minutes every day (WFD & NSAD 2008:18).
LSCh Interpreters are grouped under the Chilean Aggrupation of Instructors and Interpreters of Sign Language (ACHIELS – Agrupación Chilena de Instructores e Intérpretes del Lenguaje de Señas). This association is affiliated to the WASLI.According to the 2008 Report of the World Federation of Deaf, the local government covers one part of the costs of interpreting services to LSCh (WFD&SNAD 2008:16). In the same report it is stated the absence of an offer for the professional formation of interpreters in the country (WFD&SNAD 2008:16).
A brief bibliography of available works about LSCh (all of them are in Spanish) as well as about the history and culture of deaf people in Chile is presented below:
The contents of this article are published under a Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA. That means that they can be only used for non-commercial purposes, mentioning the original source and that the resulting products can be exclusively distributed under the same kind of license.