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Rannveig Sverrisdóttir (IS)

Rannveig Sverrisdóttir (IS)

Assistant professor in Sign Language Linguistics and Interpretation, University of Iceland.

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What, in your opinion, are the strengths or weaknesses of the current system in the Iceland?

Having a law on Icelandic Sign Language as the first language of the Deaf in Iceland, as well as that Icelandic Sign Language is being covered in the curriculum for elementary schools in Iceland are definitely the strengths of the system in Iceland. Also, having sign language and interpretation as a subject at a university level.

The weaknesses of the system are negative attitudes. This can be seen both in the lack of actions (despite the law) and in poor financial contributions to the field. Ignorance and myths of sign languages and deaf culture make the system weak as well.

Can you give us examples of ‘best practice’ in your country?

The acknowledgement of sign language/sign language interpreting as a subject of higher education at the University of Iceland as well as the co-operation between the University and the Communication Centre for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing within the fields of teaching and doing research.

Also, having a language committee, as the law assumes.

Can you tell us about the accreditation of sign language teachers in your county?

At the moment there is no formal accreditation of sign language teachers in Iceland. Educated teachers for elementary school (B.Ed.) could (before) take sign language as a subject but that has not been on the programme for some years now.

Can you tell us something about curriculum development in your country? Are curricula based on the CEFR?

Iceland now has a representative of Icelandic Sign Language working on an adaptation of the CEFR for the language.

What, in your opinion, is the way forward for Sign Language teaching & the training of SL teachers in your country, and/or in Europe?

In my opinion, it is important to increase the requirements for sign language teachers and their training, both in Iceland and in Europe. There should be a study program that has sign language as a special subject so teachers can be trained in teaching sign language as L1 and L2, and in teaching in (Icelandic) Sign Language. In Iceland, this can be done at the School of Education at the University of Iceland in cooperation with specialist working at the Communication Centre and at the Sign Language Linguistics programme at the School of Humanities.

 Date of the interview: May 2017