Bulgarian Sign Language Act

National Legislation

BULGARIAN SIGN LANGUAGE ACT

On January 21, 2021, a landmark moment occurred in Bulgaria with the adoption of the Bulgarian Sign Language Act (BGSLA), which came into force on February 6 of the same year. This Act governs the public recognition of Bulgarian Sign Language (BGSL) as a natural and autonomous language. It ensures the rights of deaf and deaf-blind individuals to communicate and receive information through BGSL, marking a significant step in acknowledging and respecting their language and communication needs.

With this Act, BGSL has been granted equal status to spoken Bulgarian. Consequently, by December 31, 2022, all public institutions are mandated to provide their services in both spoken Bulgarian and BGSL. This requirement ensures that state authorities, both at central and municipal levels, are obliged to create conducive conditions for offering administrative services to deaf and deaf-blind individuals, providing greater accessibility.

Key objectives of the BGSLA include:

  • Ensuring translation services from and into Bulgarian Sign Language for deaf and deaf-blind individuals;
  • Facilitating the training of specialists proficient in BGSL;
  • Promoting the use of BGSL in communication through modern information technologies.

The implementation of this Act is not only a step forward in enhancing the lives of deaf individuals but also opens doors for increased socio-economic participation, allowing them to engage on an equal footing with other citizens.

In accordance with the BGSLA, a Council on Bulgarian Sign Languagehas been established. This Council plays a pivotal role in advising the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, and other national institutions, ensuring the practical enactment of the Act.

The Council operates by embracing the principles of international best practices advocating for a collaborative approach among institutions, the deaf community, and academic circles. This collaboration is vital for the establishment of national standards aimed at preserving and developing BGSL.

We are proud to announce that members of our team – Silvia Chapkanova, Dochka Veleva, Alexander Ivanov, and Ashod Derandonyan – are esteemed representatives of this Council. Their involvement is a testament to our commitment to advancing the rights and opportunities of the deaf community in Bulgaria.

In alignment with the implementation of the BGSLA at the local level, we are proud to have our team members, Alexander Ivanov and Ashod Derandonyan, actively participating in the Sofia Municipality Advisory Council. Their involvement is crucial in addressing all matters pertaining to administrative services for deaf and deaf-blind individuals.

RADIO AND TELEVISION ACT

The Radio and Television Act, specifically Article 8a, plays a critical role in ensuring media accessibility for the deaf community. According to this law, media service providers are obligated to make their content accessible to deaf individuals progressively. Accessibility can be achieved through BGSL translation and the provision of subtitles for the Deaf.

Public media service providers are required to produce and distribute news and current affairs television programs in a manner that aligns with technological advancements and their economic capacities, ensuring these programs are accessible to deaf viewers. Furthermore, the action plans of these providers include the goal of subtitling all television broadcasts with language content. This encompasses a wide range of programming, such as news, current affairs, movies, series, and more. The aim is also to extend these subtitling services to relevant non-linear on-demand services over time, enhancing the viewing experience for the deaf community.

FILM INDUSTRY ACT

The Film Industry Act, particularly Article 41, holds significant relevance for the deaf community. This article stipulates a mandatory requirement for both foreign and Bulgarian films to be distributed with Bulgarian subtitles designed explicitly for deaf viewers. This provision ensures that the deaf community has equal access to film content, enhancing their cinematic experience and ensuring inclusivity in the realm of film entertainment.