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Outgoing children’s ombudsman snags sign language award

The Finnish Association for the Deaf has granted an award to outgoing Children’s Ombudsman Maria Kaisa Aula for her advocacy of sign language rights. The 2013 Sign Language Deed of the Year Award was conferred on the occasion of National Sign Language Day on February 12.

Maria Kaisa Aula.
Maria Kaisa Aula. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Outgoing Children’s Ombudsman Maria Kaisa Aula received the award at a sign language seminar convened at the Parliament by Finnish-Swedish deaf associations – just one of a number of events organised to commemorate the event.

Back in 2012 Aula had worked with the Deaf Association to prepare a report that highlighted the rights of deaf children to use their own language.

She also played a significant role in how different hearing impaired groups interact. Sign Language Day in Finland has been observed annually on February 12, the birth date of the founder of the first school for the deaf, C.O. Malm.

The Deaf Association estimates that some 4,000 – 5,000 Finns use sign language while between 6,000 and 9,000 hearing persons can communicate in sign language. Users of the dying Finnish-Swedish sign language currently number about 300, of whom 150 are deaf.

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