Introduction / History The Deaf population of Portugal is proud of their language and culture. According to the European Union of the Deaf , the Deaf population using sign language is approximately 11,500 (European Union of the Deaf ). The largest Deaf populations are located in Lisboa and Porto, with Lisboa being the larger of the two. Deaf people meet together on a regular basis for sports activities, association meetings, and other social gatherings.
An unsuccessful attempt to make Lingua Gestual Portuguesa (Portuguese Sign Language, LGP) an official language of Portugal was made in 2004. (Portuguese Assembly of the Republic 2012) Hope remains strong to make LGP an officially recognized language in the future.
Most Deaf students are mainstreamed while other Deaf students attend Deaf only schools. Public schools either include Deaf students in otherwise hearing classrooms or have separate classrooms for Deaf students where an interpreter is provided most of the time. Within the past 4-6 years a few Universities have opened their doors more readily to Deaf students.
Professionally trained interpreters are available in Portugal but more are needed. Some interpreters are available to assist students in the classrooms but many Deaf students have to pay for their own interpreters. Interpreter certification is available and has two main requirements according to a code of ethics included in legislation passed in 1999. The two requirements to be certified as an interpreter in Portugal are: training in a sign language, and completion of a college-level interpreting program using an approved curriculum.
Some materials have been produced in LGP including dictionaries, children's stories and educational materials. The Deaf community indicates that their greatest needs are for more educational materials of all kinds to be produced, for more hearing people to learn sign language and for Deaf people to take an active role in politics, government, creating awareness and leading within the Deaf community.