| Berlin, May 11th, 2021|
Press release 07/2021
German sign language is recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO!
On March 19, 2021, the German Commission for UNESCO and the Conference of Ministers of Education announced in their joint press release  that German sign language was included in the nationwide directory of intangible cultural heritage. This is a historic and great day for all sign language users! The German Deaf Association is very happy about this decision and is proud of it.
The Hamburg Deaf Association has proposed German Sign Language for the list of intangible cultural heritage. The German Deaf Association would like to thank this association, Ralph Raule, Louisa Pethke and the professors Dr. Christian Rathmann, Dr. Annika Hermann and Dr. Barbara Hänel-Faulhaber for the work associated with the application and for her commitment.
| The DGS version of the press release. |
| Intangible cultural heritage is considered to be cultural expressions that are supported by human knowledge and skills and passed on from generation to generation. Communities shape these living traditions and creatively develop them further. German Sign Language is now part of the intangible cultural heritage. This promotes awareness of the importance of German sign language and it is shown more respect and appreciation!|
On the occasion of this appreciation, we would like to point out 15 other sign languages that are on another UNESCO list - namely the endangered languages:  the Algerian Jewish Sign Language (Israel), the Alipur Sign Language (India), the Al-Sayyid- Bedouin Sign Language (Israel), Austrian Sign Language (Austria), Ban Khor Sign Language (Thailand), Brazilian Sign Language (Brazil), Chican Sign Language (Mexico), Danish Sign Language (Denmark), Ethiopian Sign Language ( Ethiopia), Finnish-Swedish Sign Language (Finland), Inuit Sign Language (Canada), Kata Ko lok (Indonesia), Mardin Sign Language (Turkey), New Zealand Sign Language (New Zealand), and Yucatec Maya Sign Language (Mexico).
German Sign Language is an essential part of the diverse deaf movement that has been going on for centuries. Nowadays more and more people in society learn and appreciate it. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also emphasized this in his speech on the occasion of the International Sign Language Day on September 23, 2020:
“The German sign language is [...] not a niche phenomenon, but a language with its own culture. Above all, however, sign language belongs to our country. It belongs in our everyday life, in the middle of our society. "
The German sign language and the associated deaf culture must continue to be preserved, protected, promoted and strengthened! Therefore, the German Deaf Association and its 26 member associations are striving for German Sign Language to be recognized as a minority language within the meaning of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.