Act on the Status of the Icelandic language and Icelandic Sign Language
June 7th 2011 - No.61
Article 1. National language – official language.
Icelandic is the national language of Icelanders and the official language of Iceland.
Article 2. Icelandic.
The national language is the common language of Icelanders. The authorities shall ensure that it can be used in all areas of Icelandic society.
Anyone residing in Iceland should have the opportunity to learn and use Icelandic so as to be able to participate in Icelandic society as further provided for in special laws.
Article 3. Icelandic sign language.
Icelandic sign language is the first language of those who rely on it for expressing themselves and communicating with others. It is also the first language of their children. The authorities shall nurture and support it.
Anyone who has need of sign language shall have the opportunity to learn and use Icelandic sign language at the onset of language acquisition, or from such time as deafness, hearing impairment or deafblindness is diagnosed. The same right is afforded to the closest family members of such persons.
Article 4. Icelandic Braille.
Icelandic Braille is the first written language of those who rely on it for expressing themselves and communicating with others. Anyone who has need of Braille due to visual impairment should have the opportunity to learn and use Icelandic Braille as soon as they are able.
Article 5. Language policy.
The state and local governments have a responsibility to preserve and strengthen the Icelandic language and shall make sure that it is used. The cooperation of the Icelandic Language Council shall be sought with respect to language policy and the status of the Icelandic language, see Article 6.
The Icelandic state and local governments shall promote the development, studying, teaching and spread of Icelandic sign language, and shall otherwise support culture, schooling and education for the deaf, the hearing impaired and the deaf blind. The cooperation of the Icelandic Sign Language Council shall be sought with respect to sign language policy and the status of Icelandic sign language, see Article 7.
[The Ministry]1) will monitor compliance with this Act and may require individual administrative bodies to deliver reports thereon.
1)Act No. 126/2011, Article 545
Article 6. The Icelandic Language Council.
The Minister will appoint the Icelandic Language Council for a term of four years. The Icelandic Language Council shall be composed of 16 members. In addition, the Council may invite one or two persons to join the Council as additional members if it believes this would benefit its work. Each of the following shall nominates one member to the Language Council: The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, the Association of Icelandic Teachers, the Writers' Union of Iceland, the Icelandic Journalists' Association, the Terminology Association on behalf of terminology committees, the Icelandic Association of Translators and Interpreters, Icelandic Standards, Upplýsing - the Icelandic Library and Information Science Association, Hagþenkir - the Association of Non-Fiction and Educational Writers in Iceland, and the Association of Local Authorities in Iceland. The Cooperation Committee for University Level Education shall nominate two members to the Council. Two members are appointed by the Minister without nomination, one of which shall be Chairman and the other Vice-Chairman. In addition, [the minister responsible for immigrant issues]1) shall nominate one member from among immigrants. The Icelandic Language Council shall allocate tasks among its members.
The role of the Icelandic Language Council is to provide advice to the authorities on academic matters relating to the Icelandic language and submit proposals to the Minister on a language policy, as well as to issue an annual statement on the status of the Iceland language. The Language Council may offer an opinion as to what has been done well and what needs to be improved in the use of the Icelandic language in the public arena. The Icelandic Language Council shall establish writing rules to be issued by the Minster, which shall inter alia govern the teaching of spelling in schools. Fundamental changes to the writing rules require the approval of the Minister.
The office of the Icelandic Language Council is located at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic studies.
The Minister will issue a regulation with further provisions on the activities of the Icelandic Language Council.
1)Act No. 126/2011, Article 545
Article 7. The Icelandic Sign Language Council.
The Minister will appoint five members to the Icelandic Sign Language Council and an equal number of alternates. The Council shall be appointed in consultation with the School of Humanities of the University of Iceland, the Communication Centre for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, groups representing the interests of the deaf and hearing impaired in Iceland, and the Association of Local Authorities in Iceland. The Minister will select the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Icelandic Sign Language Council.
The role of the Icelandic Sign Language Council is to advise the authorities on all matters relating to Icelandic sign language as well as to promote the strengthening of Icelandic sign language and its use in Icelandic society.
The office of the Icelandic Sign Language Council is located at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic studies.
The Minister will issue a regulation with further provisions on the activities of the Icelandic Sign Language Council.
Article 8. Official language of government.
Icelandic is the language of the Althing, the courts, the state and local governments, schools at all school levels and other institutions engaged in activities and providing public services.
Article 9. Interpretation and sign language interpretation at government level.
The right to interpretation and the obligation of the courts to seek the assistance of interpreters and sign language interpreters is provided for in the Act on Civil Procedure and the Act on Criminal Procedure.
The authorities shall seek to ensure that anyone who does not understand Icelandic is able to obtain a resolution of his issues and comprehend the substance of any documents and identification papers of relevance to him.
Article 10. Language use policy at the state and local government level.
The language used in the activities of the state and local governments or activities carried out on their behalf shall be of good quality, easy to understand and precise.
Article 11. Icelandic technical terms.
The authorities shall take measures aimed at ensuring that the vocabulary of Icelandic technical terms in the various fields gradually improves, is accessible to the public and is used as widely as possible.
Article 12. Official language at the international level.
Icelandic is the official language of Iceland at the international level.
Article 13. Obligations of the state and local governments and the status of Icelandic sign language.
The state and local governments shall ensure that anyone who needs it is provided with services in Icelandic sign language. The state and local governments have a responsibility to preserve Icelandic sign language, develop it and promote its use. Emphasis shall be placed on the development and use of technical terms in Icelandic sign language in the different fields.
Icelandic sign language has equal status to Icelandic as a form of communication between people and no one may be discriminated against on the basis of which language they use.
Article 14. Entry into force, deleted provisions.
This Act is effective immediately.