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Committee for UNESCO project on endangered sign languages announced

7 May, 2013

A group of researchers led by iSLanDS are working on the first-ever inclusion of sign languages in UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. The iSLanDS Institute is pleased to announce the committee for this project:

– Kang-Suk Byun, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, the Netherlands
– Josefina Safar, University of Hamburg, Germany
– Ulrike Zeshan, Director of iSLanDS
– Anastasia Bradford, iSLanDS
– Nick Palfreyman, iSLanDS
– Cesar Ernesto Escobedo Delgado, iSLanDS
– Jenny Webster, iSLanDS

Currently, the UNESCO Project is the most vital activity in our ‘endangered sign languages’ research theme here at iSLanDS, and we are grateful to our committee members for supporting this unprecedented work. They will be collecting and organising data on sign languages from around the world, promoting the project, developing criteria for sign language endangerment, and investigating which sign languages should be included in UNESCO’s Atlas as well as its interactive online version.

The seeds for this exciting and ground-breaking project were planted in 2010 at a conference on endangered sign languages in Norway. UNESCO’s original endangered language questionnaire was then adapted by a team of sign language linguists led by Professor Ulrike Zeshan. We have been collecting data for the past several months and are thrilled to have established a committee who will take our UNESCO project to its completion later this year.

It may be possible for additional members to join our committee in the future as and when needed. Please email Jenny Webster ( if you are interested in being contacted about this, if you would like to fill out a questionnaire about your own sign language, or if you have any questions about the project.

UNESCO atlas

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