Introduction / History Deaf education was in existence in Bulgaria in 1898. Bulgarian Sign Language has its roots in Russian Sign Language, which was first introduced to the country approximately 10 years later. Sign language was allowed in the classroom by 1945.
In 2013 Deaf lympics were held in Sofia, Bulgaria. This event brought many Deaf people from around the world to the country, and increased the awareness among many Bulgarians of Deaf culture and sign language.
As a Deaf population within a hearing one, the Bulgarian Deaf struggle from the same things that most Deaf globally do. Most are born to hearing parents, but do not usually learn language or values from them. They often lack anything more than basic communication skills with family members.
Their difficulty is not the inability to hear, but the great barrier to communicating with the surrounding dominant culture, especially acquiring information.
What are their lives like? Some things specific to Bulgaria:
At present there are three boarding schools in Bulgaria for the Deaf. These schools utilize "oral methods," emphasizing speaking/voicing Bulgarian and understanding written Bulgarian while downplaying the use of Bulgarian Sign Language (if it is allowed at all in the schools).
The concepts of "Deaf culture," "Deaf community," etc., are fairly well established in North America and western Europe, but are relatively new concepts in Bulgaria, particularly among hearing Bulgarians. Bulgarian Sign Language is not officially recognized as a minority language by the Bulgarian government.
Because of the lack of recognition or protection by the government for the Deaf as a linguistic and cultural group, obtaining support services, such as adequately trained and certified interpreters, is a struggle for the Deaf of Bulgaria.