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Deaf Culture in Denmark

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As previously mentioned, Denmark and the other Scandinavian states are generally more developed compared to the rest of European countries. In particular, I would like to highlight the main differences between the Danish deaf culture and the Italian one.

Asger Bergsmann recounts an event that occurred in 1987, when the Nordic Council of the Deaf was given the task of organising the activities for the World Federation of the Deaf congress. Among the other members of the board, Liisa Kauppinen was chosen as Secretary-General. Several people doubted her selection because of her deafness and, especially, the Secretary-General Magarotto from Italy. (Aineisto Viittomakielinen Kirjasto, 2017, p. 1-15)

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Although more than thirty years have passed since that event, the situation in Italy remained rather unchanged. Sometimes deaf people are still considered incapable of making decisions and the choices that concern their lives and their future are made by the hearings.

For instance, Italy remains the only European country that has not recognised Italian Sign Language as an official language yet. This happens because, unlike the Danish deaf, Italians still have a long way to go to overcome the inferiority complex caused by the years of violence after the Congress of Milan.

Moreover, while in Denmark most TV channel offer the subtitling service and the Nordic Council of the Deaf was even considering the establishment of a sign language channel, in Italy are subtitles available only for some channels and they are quite often inaccurate.

Danish deaf have the opportunity to go to the cinema, because many films are subtitled, and they can also go to the theatre, since they usually have the opportunity to be accompanied by an interpreter without having to pay for their ticket. Unfortunately, none of those things would be possible in Italy.

Finally, the last topic I would like to address concerns the deaf awareness in Italy. In most cases, when a deaf child is born, hearing parents are not given precise information on the possible alternatives. Since the Italian Sign Language has not been recognised yet, doctors have a tendency to support and recommend the cochlear implant, which is not always the best choice for the child’s health.

Despite the attempt to focus on the Danish deaf culture, it is hard to remain committed to it, because the histories of deaf people around the world have always something in common.

Although many countries share the same past, it is possible to see a clear difference in the choices that have been made to face to same events, such as it happened with Italy and Denmark.

Nordic countries have continuously influenced each other and followed each other’s examples during the years and this process allowed them to achieve most of the goals they had set themselves. Deaf people in Scandinavia have now reached the level of equality they deserve and have seen their rights being recognised.  

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