University of Jyväskylä

A Conference for all Ears and Speakers

Attitudes towards sign languages and their users have in the recent years changed globally. Sign languages differ between countries and one nation can use more than one sign language. Even though sign languages have often been associated with disabilities, lately the number of those who can sign has increased in the hearing community. In addition, sign languages have achieved a stronger legal position in many countries.

From 28 - 30 August, the University of Jyväskylä will hold the 16th International Conference on Minority Languages in cooperation with the Jyväskylä Language Campus. This year’s conference focuses on the revaluing of minority languages. One of the main minorities is sign language users. The first two days of the conference will be spent in Jyväskylä, and on the third day the conference attendees will travel to Närpes.


In order to enable the participation of deaf persons all around the globe, the University of Jyväskylä has organized interpretation in International Sign language for the duration of the whole conference. With the ICML conference the University wishes to promote the interaction between the hearing and the deaf.

The conference organizing committee and attendees include both Finnish and international signers. One of the speakers is widely known researcher of sign languages, Robert Adam, who is also Deaf. The speakers also include a top researcher, Ingrid Piller, who is known among other things for her popular language portal Language on the move. In addition, the professor for applied language studies Sari Pöyhönen presents her study on asylum seekers in Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia.


On the third day of the conference, the participants will travel to Närpes, where they will be received by the mayor, Hans-Erik Lindqvist. The purpose of the trip is to get acquainted with bilingual Finland and to discuss the successful employment of immigrants in Swedish-speaking areas of the country.

“The city of Närpes has shown how minority languages can benefit from immigration. Its success also indicates that multilingualism is an asset in employment”, says the Conference Chair Petteri Laihonen.


More information:

Petteri Laihonen                                                Aino Seppälä

+358 40 805 3838                                             + 358 40 913 3384                             

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