21.06.2017

Finland-Swedish Sign Language - Building a future for a severely endangered language

 

According to evaluative factors used by UNESCO, Finland-Swedish Sign Language (FinSSL) is a severely endangered language. Today the group of Finland-Swedish Deaf is estimated to approximately 90 native language users in Finland. Due to the lack of service and education in the language, many language users have moved to Sweden or are forced to use Finnish Sign Language (FinSL) on a daily basis. The total number of language users is unknown and generally there is an enormous need for more information and research on the language and the language community.

The project Lev i vårt språk (Livs 2015-2017), at Humak University of Applied Sciences, aims to strengthen the language through an educational programme. Beyond organizing a course (30 ECTS) that has brought various FinSSL users together under the topic of language identity and Sign Language Work, the project also supplies basic tools to enable future education in the language.

 

Magdalena Kintopf-Huuhka works as Managing Director of the organization for Finland-Swedish Sign Language users, Finlandssvenska teckenspråkiga r.f. Kintopf-Huuhka has since she moved from Sweden to Finland in 2011, been deeply involved in the linguistic rights of the FinSSL minority.

M.A Maria Andersson-Koski works within the project Lev i vårt språk as a linguist and Swedish speaking resource. Andersson-Koski got familiar with Finland-Swedish Sign Language by making a survey of the situation of Finland-Swedish Deaf for Finlandssvenska teckenspråkiga r.f. in 2014-2015.