In this lecture, Arkadiy Belozovskiy—researcher and tutor of American Sign Language, and coordinator of interpreters from the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI)—will focus on the Deaf community, Russian Sign Language, and the history of its development.
Russian Sign Language is a specific linguistic system with particular grammar and vocabulary rules that has developed over centuries. During the Soviet period, linguists paid no attention to sign language because it was unofficially banned in schools for deaf and hard of hearing students. Only in 2012 in Russia Russian Sign Language was officially recognized as a tool for interpersonal communication at the state level. At the end of the twentieth century, interest in sign language—as well as its acknowledgement both by the government and the academic milieu—grew because of a number of factors: general changes in society towards people with disabilities, scientific acceptance of the idea that cognitive processes take place both in oral and sign languages, and the development of the bilingual method of teaching the Deaf in Europe and the USA.
Garage Museum of Contemporary Art supports development and popularization of Russian Sign Language. Since 2014, the Museum has offered free tours, lectures, and workshops for children and adults using sign language. In 2016, the Museum’s Inclusive Department ran a course to teach museum professionals the basics of Russian Sign Language, with the key goal of drawing the attention of the museum community to the problem of creating an accessible environment for deaf and hard of hearing visitors, as well as demonstrating the importance and uniqueness of sign language.