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2.3 The associative movement of the CNSE

2.3.2 Key Professional Profiles

    • Sign Language Interpreters

    They are professionals who interpret and translate information from sign language to oral and written language and vice versa, to ensure successful communication between deaf people who use sign language and their surroundings.

    The qualification to become a sign language interpreter is High Level Professional Training on Sign Language Interpreting.

    How to request the service of a sign language interpreter:

    In Spain, the organization of the sign language interpreter services varies from one Autonomous Region to another. In general, the services are provided by the federations and associations for the deaf and are usually free.

    You have to get in touch with the federation and/or association that provide the service and let them know within the time frame that they establish. You need to provide the following information in order to request the service: date, address and time of the service, as well as the kind of service that is required.

    In some Autonomous Regions there is also an emergency sign language system that usually works 24h a day, 365 days a year, which mainly takes care of legal and medical emergencies.

    • Agentes de Desarrollo de la Comunidad Sorda(Development Agents for the Deaf Community) (ADECOSOR)

    They are deaf professionals who know the associative field, the characteristics of the deaf community and their language, and who work as mediators between the deaf community and the social agents.

    Sign Language Specialists

    Deaf professionals, who are responsible for the services that improve communication in the families (sign language workshops, home visits, etc) and at the bilingual centres and who become personal referents, linguistically and identity wise, for deaf children, teenagers and their families.

Remember that:

- DEAF PEOPLE ARE NOT DEAF-MUTE. The term deaf-mute is incorrect and unpleasant. It is a stigma that society has traditionally used to define the group, and it reflects an apparent inability to communicate. Deaf people can communicate in sign language, and can often also do so in oral language, with or without the help of a hearing aid.

- NOT EVERY DEAF PERSON CAN READ LIPS. It is a very common myth to think that all deaf people can communicate perfectly with hearing people through lip reading. The truth is lip reading is a skill like any other that you either acquire or not. Moreover, oral language is meant to be transmitted through hearing, not through sight, and there are many factors that impede lip reading: lack of light, the capacity to vocalize, or the speaker’s ability.

- SIGN LANGUAGE IS NOT MIMING, nor is it a set of iconic gestures. To conceive it as such is to compare it to onomatopoeias in oral language. Sign language is a natural language in which hands, body and face expression become the elements of the linguistic system. Therefore, hands and sight play the same role for deaf people that voice and hearing do for hearing people.

- THERE IS NO UNIVERSAL SIGN LANGUAGE. A different language has arisen in every country, as happened with oral languages.

- EVERYONE THAT BELONGS TO THE DEAF COMMUNITY HAS THEIR OWN SIGN: Everyone in the deaf community has two names: their proper name and another one in sign language which identifies them, related to some physical feature, personality trait or interest.

- BILINGUAL? For deaf people bilingualism means using two languages with completely different grammar and syntax: one visual-gestural (sign language) and one auditory-vocal (oral language).

2.3.1 Services it offers

The federations and associations that make up the CNSE generally offer the following services and resources:

  • Social assistance (individual and family)
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Employment and training
  • Guidance and educational advice
  • Spanish or Catalan sign language courses both for deaf and hearing people, as well as entities who want to learn sign language.
  • Campaigns to raise public awareness about the deaf community and sign language.
  • Advice to institutions and professionals who seek it (accessibility, guidelines on how to communicate with a deaf person, characteristics of the deaf community, etc.)

 The staff of the federations and associations is made up of professionals, both deaf and hearing, who are truly bilingual and ensure total accessibility.

If you need any of the services mentioned above you should go to your local federation or association, where you will be informed about the services provided and the requirements to access them.

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