TRS.20.044 – From mime to sign

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 048 How can we encourage self-reliance and social participation?

An unexpected positive outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic for Dutch society has been the increased visibility of Sign Language of the Netherlands (Nederlandse Gebarentaal; NGT) at the corona press conferences dedicated to inform the general public, including deaf signers. The fact that many hearing people have now learned at least one NGT sign, the one for HAMSTEREN (frantically gathering), is only a small step towards increased awareness of deafness and improved participation for deaf and hard of hearing people (up to 1.7 million citizens) in the Netherlands. In fact, it was not until 22 September of this year, that the Dutch House of Representatives unanimously passed a law to recognize NGT as one of the Netherlands’ official languages; distinct from any other sign language in the world. This upcoming change in legislation will require considerably more than just an upgrade of governmental communication. This consortium aims to support the application of NGT signs as an effective form of communication across society. This includes, but is not restricted to, doctor-patient interactions, sign language interpretation in legal settings, sign-supported speech for preverbal children, language training for individuals with acquired language difficulties due to stroke, and the growing group of elderly who have become deafened with age. Boosting our knowledge base of NGT and its acquisition by hearing learners, especially in relation to other forms of visual and non-verbal communication, is essential to understanding the emergence of its linguistic characteristics, and engenders a necessary step forward to a broader societal implementation of NGT signs. Through training tools and events for a diverse collection of stakeholders, ranging from health care professionals to civil servants, this consortium supports the route Towards resilient societies, and ties in directly with questions 048, 031, 110 and 111 of the NWA-ORC-2020/2021 call.


deaf and hard of hearing people, participation, sign language

Other organisations

Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen (RU), University of Amsterdam (UvA), Utrecht University of Applied Sciences


Organisation Tilburg University (TiU)
Name Dr. C.L.G. (Connie) de Vos