Utrikesdepartementet 31 mars 2009
Jan Björklund, Utbildningsminister, vice statsminister
Lanseringen av teckenspråkslexikonet Spread the sign
(Check against delivery.)
It's now almost four years since "Spread the sign" was initiated and I am proud to be able to host this launch here today.
By initiating this project, Thomas Lydell-Olsen has shown that good initiatives do not necessarily need to come from the government or its agencies. On the contrary, good ideas and innovations often come from creative people, and I am glad that the Ministry of Education and Research, through the International Programme Office for Education and Training, could help him realise his ideas.
It is important to encourage pupils to go abroad and learn more languages than just Swedish. Sweden will not be able to hold its own in the face of international competition if we are not good at languages, learn to look beyond our borders and consider the needs of each individual. The time when we were able to ignore the rest of the world is long gone. We are a part of Europe and must start thinking bigger.
Learning a foreign language is not only about will power, however. The conditions must also be in place for us to absorb new knowledge. The availability of dictionaries for different languages, as there is for those who can hear, is therefore important as it makes it easier for the deaf and hard of hearing to learn languages and communicate with people from different countries.
European cooperation creates new opportunities and we must ensure we utilise them. Even if sign language has a strong position in Sweden, it varies among the different Member States of the European Union and we have a long way to go before it enjoys official status throughout Europe.
The launch of "Spread the sign" confirms Sweden's position as a pioneer when it comes to sign language, and I hope that we will continue to set a good example and inspire other countries to conduct more research into sign language and give deaf and hard of hearing people a better chance of learning other languages.
I'd like to thank all of you for coming here today.