Act on the use of Slovene sign language (ZUSZJ)

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General Provisions

Article 1

This Act lays down the right of deaf persons to use Slovene sign language (hereinafter: sign language) and to have access to information using techniques adapted to their needs and the scope and manner of exercising the right to a sign language interpreter in connection with the equal inclusion of deaf people in the living and work environment and in all forms of social life, with the same rights, conditions and opportunities as persons with no hearing deficit.

Deaf persons shall exercise their rights under this Act unless otherwise provided by another act. 

Provisions of this Act applying to natural persons shall apply equally to men and women.

Article 2

Sign language shall mean the language which deaf persons use for communication and/or is a natural means of communication for deaf persons.

Sign language shall mean a visual sign language system of certain positioning, direction and movement of the hands and fingers and facial gestures.

Article 3

According to this Act, a deaf person shall be a person who is totally without hearing or a person who, due to difficulties in communication, uses sign language as his/her natural language.

Interpreters

Article 4

A sign language interpreter shall mean a person who for deaf persons interprets the Slovene spoken language into sign language and for persons with adequate hearing interprets sign language into the Slovene spoken language.

The rights under this Act to the interpretation of the Slovene spoken language into sign language and sign language into the Slovene spoken language may be exercised by any deaf person.

In areas of autochthonous settlement of the Italian or Hungarian national community, deaf persons may also exercise the right to interpretation of the Italian or Hungarian spoken language into the Italian or Hungarian sign language and for persons with adequate hearing, interpretation of Italian or Hungarian sign language into the Italian or Hungarian spoken language.

Article 5

A sign language interpreter shall be an adult to whom a certificate has been issued in accordance with the rules regulating national vocational qualifications and who has been entered in the Register of Sign Language Interpreters.

In their work, interpreters must observe the code of professional ethics of interpreters.

The certificate shall be a public document.

Court interpreters shall be subject to the rules of this Act regarding sign language and in any other respect to the rules on courts.

Article 6

The ministry responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall keep the Register of Sign Language Interpreters, which shall include:

  • the date and number of the decision on entry in the Register;

  • personal data (name and surname of the interpreter, date and place of birth, personal registration number (EMŠO), level and field of completed education, residence and tax number);

  • date and number of the certificate; and

  • professional qualifications achieved.

The ministry responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall issue a decision on entry in or removal from the Register.

Upon the issuance of a decision, the ministry responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall also notify the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters.

No appeal shall be allowed against a decision on entry in or removal from the Register.

Article 7

An interpreter shall be deleted from the Register of Sign Language Interpreters in the following cases:

  • upon the interpreter’s death;

  • upon a written declaration of the interpreter stating that he/she no longer wishes to work as an interpreter;

  • if a restraining order has been imposed upon the interpreter prohibiting him/her from practising the profession of interpreter.

Article 8

The Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters shall keep a list of sign language interpreters who have been entered in the Register under Article 6 of this Act.

The list shall contain the following data:

  • the name and surname of the interpreter;

  • the contact address and the times when the interpreter is available.

The list of sign language interpreters shall be public and available to all interested parties.

Article 9

Upon the consent of the minister responsible for protection of persons with disabilities, the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters shall adopt Rules on the Disciplinary Responsibility of Interpreters.

These Rules shall define all acts that violate interpreting duty and the procedure for establishing responsibility, and measures and consequences upon an established responsibility for violations of such duty.

Rights of Deaf Persons

Article 10

Deaf persons shall have the right to use sign language in procedures conducted by state authorities, local self-government bodies, bodies exercising powers conferred by public law and providers of public services.

Deaf persons shall also have the right to use sign language in any other life situation where deafness would pose an obstacle to fulfilling his/her needs.

Deaf persons shall have the right to be informed through techniques adapted to them in accordance with special rules.

The right under the first and second paragraphs of this Article shall be realised by exercising the right to a sign language interpreter.

Article 11

State authorities, local self-government bodies, bodies exercising powers conferred by public law and providers of public services shall be liable to ensure that deaf persons can exercise the right under the first paragraph of Article 10 of this Act in all cases when communication in

techniques adapted to them does not provide equal participation in procedures.

In carrying out public services, any deaf person may be enabled to communicate in another manner on the basis of a personalised plan which is acceptable to him/her.

Article 12

State authorities, local self-government bodies, bodies exercising powers conferred by public law and providers of public services shall be liable to provide a sign language interpreter to a deaf person immediately upon his/her request, or upon his/her submittal of documents recognising the right to an interpreter.

The right to interpreter shall be exercised in the scope and manner enabling exercising of rights according to the principle of equal accessibility.

Payment of costs of a sign language interpreter under the first paragraph of this Article shall be provided by state authorities, local self-government bodies, bodies exercising powers conferred by public law and providers of public services in annual financial plans.

Article 13

A deaf person may exercise the right to a sign language interpreter under the second paragraph of Article 10 of this Act at his/her own discretion within the scope of 30 hours per year, while a deaf person having a status of a student may, for reasons of additional needs due to education, exercise the right to a sign language interpreter within the scope of more than 30 hours, however not exceeding 100 hours per year.

The deaf person shall exercise the right to a sign language under the preceding paragraph directly with the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters and/or interpreters from the list of interpreters under Article 8 of this Act.

The deaf person shall pay the sign language interpreter for the services rendered within the scope of the first paragraph of this Article with a voucher issued by the Social Work Centre on the basis of a decree on the rights under this Act.

The ministry responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall pay the costs of the sign language interpreter under the first paragraph of this Article.

Article 14

Sign language interpreters shall be paid for services rendered in accordance with the interpreters’ tariff adopted by the minister responsible for protection of persons with disabilities according to the proposal of the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters and published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia (Uradni list Republike Slovenije).

Article 15

The Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters shall be a legal person tasked with:

(1) keeping a list of sign language interpreters;

(2) proposing tariffs for payment of the costs of interpreters;

(3) meeting the needs for interpreters throughout the entire country;

(4) participating in expert commissions under Article 20 of this Act;

(5) developing Slovene sign language;

(6) participating in the Council for Slovene Sign Language;

(7) coordinating the work of interpreters;

(8) keeping records of services provided;

(9) adopting the Rules on Disciplinary Responsibility and deciding on appeals under Article 16 of this Act; and

(10) performing other tasks when necessary.

The activities under points 1, 2, 3, 6 and 9 above shall be performed by the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters as powers conferred by public law. Funds for exercising powers conferred by public law shall be provided by the Budget of the Republic of Slovenia.

Article 16

In connection with the quality of interpretation services provided, any person may lodge a written appeal with the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters.

Procedure for Exercising Rights

Article 17

Deaf persons shall exercise the rights under this Act in accordance with the General Administrative Procedure Act unless otherwise provided by law.

Regarding the rights of deaf persons under the first and second paragraphs of Article10 of this Act, on the basis of the opinion of an expert commission, the Social Work Centre shall decide at first instance.

On appeals against decisions of the Social Work Centre, the ministry responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall decide.

Article 18

Applications for the recognition of rights under this Act shall be lodged with the territorially responsible social work centre. Audiogram findings concerning the applicant shall be attached to the application.

Article 19

Deaf persons shall be eligible for rights under this Act as of the date the issued decision became final.

In the first year of exercising rights under this Act, the right under Article 13 of this Act shall be granted to the deaf person on a pro-rata basis according to the month when the right is exercised.

Article 20

The expert commission under the second paragraph of Article17 of this Act shall be appointed by the minister responsible for protection of persons with disabilities.

The expert commission shall be composed of three members: an appropriate specialist doctor, a representative of the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters and a representative of a regional society for the deaf and hearing-impaired with the status of a society acting in the public interest in the field of social assistance.

In issuing its opinion, the Commission shall consider the diagnosis of the responsible doctor and the ability of the deaf person to communicate and, mandatorily, also interview the deaf person and inform him/her of its findings and opinion.

The ministry responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall cover the cost of operation of the expert commission.

Article 21

On the basis of a decision, the Social Work Centre shall issue a card to the deaf person, with which he/she may exercise the rights accorded by this Act, and once a year the Social Work Centre shall issue him/her vouchers for payment of an interpreter.

The minister responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall issue rules defining the card and voucher in detail.

Article 22

The Social Work Centre shall keep a register of deaf persons to whom decisions were issued in accordance with this Act.

The register shall contain the following data on the deaf person:

  • personal data (name and surname, date and place of birth, personal registration number (EMŠO));

  • residence data;

  • voucher registration number; and

  • the decision number, date of issue and date when the decision became final.

Upon the issuance of a decision, the Social Work Centre shall also notify the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters.

Article 23

For the purposes of collecting and applying personal data in accordance with this Act, the provisions governing protection of personal data shall apply.

Data under the preceding paragraph shall be stored permanently.

Council for Slovene Sign Language

Article 24

For the purpose of expert assistance in adopting decisions and drafting regulations, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia shall establish a Council for Slovene Sign Language, tasked with the following:

  • development of Slovene sign language;

  • recognition and equality of sign language;

  • monitoring the education, training and work of Slovene sign language interpreters and the dynamics of certificate acquisition;

  • proposing amendments to the standards for professional knowledge and skills of sign language interpreters;

  • cooperating with relevant bodies in the fields of education and training, information, healthcare and health insurance, social security, judiciary, pension and disability insurance, employment, sports and culture, as well as other bodies;

  • proposing the harmonisation of issues important for implementation of this Act to the responsible authorities; keeping informed on addressing any objections in connection with the quality of interpretation services;

  • considering other issues and provide assistance in carrying out tasks in connection with the use of sign language.

Article 25

The Government of the Republic of Slovenia shall appoint the Council for Slovene Sign Language as follows:

  • one member as an expert from the field of linguistics and special pedagogics, proposed by each relevant university;

  • two members proposed by the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters;

  • four deaf members proposed by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clubs Association of Slovenia;

  • one member proposed by each of the following ministries – the ministry responsible for education, the ministry responsible for health, the ministry responsible for justice and the ministry responsible for protection of persons with disabilities;

  • one member proposed by the Slovene Language Office;

  • one member proposed by the educational institutions for the deaf;

  • one member proposed by the Social Chamber of Slovenia.

The president of the Council shall be a representative of a university and the vice-president shall be a deaf person.

The president and the vice-president shall elect the Council at its first meeting.

Article 26

The Council for Slovene Sign Language shall meet at least twice a year.

The Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters shall perform professional, administrative, technical and other tasks for the Council for Slovene Sign Language.

Article 27

The Council for Slovene Sign Language shall report to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia on the fulfilment of its tasks under Article 24 of this Act at least once a year.

Transitional and Final Provisions

Article 28

The minister responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall issue implementing regulations within six months of the entry into force of this Act.

Article 29

The minister responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall appoint the expert commission under Article 20 of this Act no later than within six months of the entry into force of this Act.

Article 30

The Council for Slovene Sign Language shall be established no later than within six months of the entry into force of this Act.

Article 31

The ministry responsible for protection of persons with disabilities shall set up the Register of the Sign Language Interpreters within six months of the entry into force of this Act.

Until the Register under Article 6 of this Act is established, interpreting in accordance with this Act shall be performed by interpreters who have successfully completed training and passed the examination and have a special document issued by the Association of Slovene Sign Language Interpreters within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clubs Association of Slovenia.

Article 32

This Act shall enter into force on the fifteenth day following its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 001-08/01-5/1 Ljubljana, 25 October 2002, Borut Pahor, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.

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