The Queen at the sign language symposium. Photo: Mikael Sundgren
On Wednesday 21 September, The Queen attended a symposium on sign language.
Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag also attended. Sign language is not an international language, which means that travelling abroad can be difficult for deaf people. The European Sign Language Centre is working to document the different sign languages and to make them available via modern technology. One example is the Spread the Sign initiative, which The Queen mentioned in her speech: "Two years ago, I launched Spread the Sign at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. I said at the time how important it is to give people access to their own language. Since then, the number of countries and languages involved has doubled! There are now 50,000 recorded languages, and 16 counties use Spread the Sign. "Another success is that there is now a sign language dictionary for mobile phones. This is like having an interpreter in your pocket or bag. The fact that there are billions of mobile phone users around the world means excellent opportunities for improving access to sign language. Sign language is different in every country, but the technology exists to bring them together, and the technology is Swedish." The symposium was arranged by the European Sign Language Centre, Örebro County Council and Örebro Municipality. Örebro is something of a centre for sign language, with Europe's largest interpreting centre, a national upper secondary school for deaf and hearing-impaired students, and world-leading research into hearing and deafness at the Audiological Research Centre. After Swedish, the second most commonly used language in Örebro is sign language.