Inkeri Lahtinen, Project Manager, Desk Officer, Finnish Association of the Deaf
Since the study concerned only deaf adults, it was also important to gain information on the current state of education of deaf pupils. After the Deaf People in Albania 2015 study, the Albanian Ministry of Education launched a separate inquiry at the Tirana School for the Deaf at ANAD's initiative, on the languages used in teaching, as well as the learning outcomes in mathematics and the Albanian language at three different grades. ANAD participated in the study by testing the teachers' skills in sign language and analysing the learning outcomes. The inquiry revealed that the teaching method remained the same, and the teachers did not know sign language (except for one person, who also worked at ANAD). The school employed a heavily simplified curriculum, where learning aims had been lowered compared with those in mainstream education. Also, the grades on the graduation diplomas did not reflect the actual learning outcomes in comparison with those in mainstream education.
In addition to the survey results, the Deaf People in Albania 2015 survey report analysed the conformity of Albanian legislation with the obligations stated in the CRPD (regarding deaf people and sign language). While the fulfilment of rights regarding social welfare was not included in the survey as such, the interview reports showed that deaf adults were not considered legally eligible for disablity benefits and services.
The most important part of the report was to draw up a concrete action plan regarding each theme included in the study, describing both short-term and long-term measures to be implemented in order to fulfil the rights of deaf people and use of sign language, in terms of the needs that arise at each stage of a deaf person's life (these stages being early intervention, basic education, upper secondary and higher education, employment, and access to information and interpreting services). These were also intended to serve as the framework of ANAD's future scheme for advocating the interests of deaf people.
By the time of this publication (2021), ANAD has been able to have an impact on various aspects of Albanian legislation. For example, the right to receive an education via sign language has been stated in the law regarding basic education, and sign language has been included as a subject in the curriculum of the institute for the deaf. The implementation of these statutes requires changes to teacher training, however, which is difficult. But vocational training for deaf sign language instructors is on the cusp of being launched, and the law on interpreting services is waiting to be approved. The task of promoting the linguistic rights of deaf people is a continuous and demanding process of co-operation with the authorities.