Sign language
Sign languages are visual/gestural languages, which means that they are based on hand moves, on the position and movement of the body and on the facial expressions so that the right sign will be conveyed. They use lexical and syntactical structures in order to express any abstract concepts and ideas.
The Greek Sign language
The Greek Sign Language ( GSL) is the mother tongue of the Greek Deaf Society. It is a complete language which uses the same grammatical mechanisms with the Greek Spoken Language. The Greek Sign Language is legaly accepted as the official language of the Greek Deaf Society for educational purposes in 2000. The Greek Sign Language is used approximately by 40.600 signers.According to A. Kolikairino alternatively to sign language we could use the term nod language ( language of nods ), but this term was not accepted by the Deaf Society.
Why Sign language and not written Greek?
Sign Languages are the mother tongues of deaf and hard of hearing people.They communicate and express themselves through sign languge in their evyrydaylife and in many aspects of their lives. Sign language is a different way of communication which does not have spoken and written form, as a result deaf people rarely express themselves using the written form.When they express themselves through written form they use the syntactical structures of the sign language , difficult or even impossible for the readers to understand their text . On the contrary, among deaf people this kind of communication is considered successful. However , even if text messages serve distance communication, the technology evolution and in particular Video Calls, have substitute the written communication, proving that the deaf people feel more comfortable to communicate in their own language.

Sign language in Greece and around the world
Sign language is not an international language as many people believe.Every country creates its own sign language with different signs and different alphabet. There are many common characteristics among the sign languages but there are significant differences as far as the morphology is concerned. However, the deaf people of different countries can easily communicate with each other via the International Sign Language. International Sign Language is a code which serves deaf people’s daily communicational needs.

In every country there are dialects, like in spoken languages. Lingustic studies on different sign languages showed that every sign language has a specific structure and corresponds to human language universal criteria. There are more than 100 sign languages and dialects all over the world.

Although there is no official language record, the people who use the Greek Sign Language in Greece are approximately 40.600, and they keep increasing because more and more people are taking interest in sign language. The constant spread of the sign language is due to the fact that it is decleared as an official language and due to the sign language interpretation shown in newscast, in Tv programmes and in Parliament meetings, in TV Parliament Channel. The Prisma+ Channel, which belonged to ERT channel, was the first channel with subtitles and sign language interpretation to a great part of its programmes.

We have to point out that the Greek Sign Language is used in Greece, but it is not a representation of the spoken Greek language like the written Greek language. Greek Sign language, like every language can capture any expression of the spoken Greek language including slang. The utility of the sign language for the deafs’ easier communication is also pointed out in Socrates’ dialogue with Hermogenes, in Platona’s play ”Cratylus”. Socrates specifically mentions : ”If we did not have voice or tongues, wouldn’t we try to use our hands, heads and bodies just like the deaf?”

Interpreters and interpretation
Sign Language Interpreters work in associations for deaf people, in special schools, in vocational training centres, in conference organisation companies,in private companies, in theatres, in TV channels, in the Police, in courts, in Airports, in the European Parliament, in Centres for Differential Diagnosis, Diagnosis and Support, etc. They interpret from a spoken language into a sign language and from a sign language into a spoken one. The sign language interpreter should sit or stand on a visible spot in front of the people with hearing problems.

An essential requirement to practise this particular profession is the excellent knowledge of the sign language of each country and at least one of the official spoken languages. The sign language interpreter must epxress and convey the right meanings in an excellent way so that the speaker’s speech will be conveyed with clarity and effectiveness.

Sign language interpreters have existed since the the community of the deaf people exists. However, the sign language interpreter’s profession and the interpreters’ association was organised in 1960.

What is the progress to learn a Sign language?
The learning process consists of four levels. Each course lasts eight months, just like an academic year.However, there are intensive courses as well during which you can complete a course in four months. At the end of each course the student receives a certificate. Completing the four year educational courses the student is able to sit for the competency in sign language exams. Once the student has received the competency in sign language certificate, he can continue his studies on sign language interpretation.

Lip-reading is the method, during which, your interlocutor tries to understand what you say without hearing your voice and by paying attention to your articulation of phonemes in the mouth area. Lip-reading also depends on the language knowledge the interlocutor has. Although on paper lip-reading is used by deaf people, most people without hearing problems also receive information from the mouth movements.

Deaf vs Deaf and dumb
In the past the term deaf and dumb was used in such a way to show that deafness leads to inability of speech. On the contrary, nowadays this term is not accepted , since the deaf people through a systematic process of speech therapy and constant education, can speak satisfactorily. The term deaf and dumb was used in texts and public provisions until recently, which has been replaced by the term deaf due to the National Federation of deaf people’s and deaf citizens’ demand.