Czech Republic – CKTZJ

Facts about Czech Republic

Population of the country: 10 000 000
Number of Deaf sign language users: 7 000
Number of sign language interpreters: 44

Sign Language interpreter organisation

Ceská komora tlumocníku znakového jazyka (CKTZJ)

Members: 30

Please find the full Country Report 2013 here.


The code of ethics

Please find the code of ethics of CKTZJ here: The Code of Ethics (CoE)

Monthly Newsletters

The Czech Chamber of SL Interpreters (CKTZJ) publishes Newsletters in English every month.

BIP_Spring 2013
BIP_Winter 2012


Czech Republic covers the area of 78,864 square kilometres. Population in Czech republic is 10,500,000 people, about 0,5 million are hearing-impaired, mostly old hard-of-hearing people. There are about 7,600 people with practical deafness or total deafness in Czech Republic. About 7,300 people use primary signed or sign language (1999).

The general situation in the Czech Republic concerning Deaf people has changed a lot as well. Till the October 2008 there was just the “Act on Sign Speech in Czech Republic” which was ratified on 11th 1998 and stated that people with hearing impairment or hearing loss have the right to be educated in signed language or sign language, Czech sign language is recognized as a primary communication of Deaf people, Czech sign language is valuable and natural language. Nevertheless, the organizations of the Deaf and the organizations of the Sign Language interpreters have put together their efforts in order to achieve some particular changes in the law. The main difficulties in the text of the old version of the law were connected with the terminology used there (sign speech etc.). The terminology and other problems concerning the law were discussed for the long time. The new version of the law fully reflects the fact that the Deaf and deaf and blind people have the right to choose their own way of communication. On the June 18th the Czech House of Parliament has adopted the new version of the law with 149 votes out of 165. On the October 6th 2008 the president of the Czech Rebublic has signed the new “Act on the Communication Systems of the Deaf and Deaf and Blind Persons”. This means that all the ways of communication can be used and demanded by the Deaf and the deaf and blind. The possible means of communication are in detail described in the law. For example Sign Language, Signed Czech, Lorm and even Speech-To-Text writing are mentioned there.

The situation of Sign Language interpreters in the Czech Republic

The exact number of Sign Language Interpreters is not known. In the Register of Sign Language Interpreters which was established by the Association of the Organizations of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and their Friends (ASNEP) there are at the moment around 40 Sign Language interpreters. However, the number of active interpreters is lower. The number of the interpreters signed in the Register of SLIs has changed due to the testing of the interpreters. The ASNEP association started the testing in 2008. The interpreters who want to be signed in the Register have to pass the examination concerning their knowledge of the Deaf community, basic theoretical facts about the Sign Language, Sign Language skills and spoken Czech skills. Last but not least, the interpreters need to have some proof of their education, experience etc. Some of the interpreters did not sign for a test or have not succeeded in the testing and consequently have fallen out of the registry. That is why the number of the registered interpreters lowered. Currently there is two conditions for the SL interpreters, who want to be registered in the national Register and be paid by ASNEP organization – they have to prove the attendance of SL courses in extent at least 150 hours and they have to pass the tests. The tests are evaluated by both Deaf and hearing specialists. Nevertheless, the biggest problem of the Register is not the number of active interpreters, even though it is still a big pain. The current hard issue is the financing of the interpreting services. The financial means which cover the services come mostly from the government foundations. Due to the financial situation of the Czech Republic there is a lot of saving going on. In many resorts there is lack of financial means. The non-governmental organizations are the first who feel it. The not sufficient financial support leads to crucial problems, which often put the existence of the organization in danger. The ASNEP Register experienced heavy financial problems during the year 2011. The operation of the Register and the call-centre which serves to the clients who need to book an interpreter had been interrupted for several months. The Deaf clients had to rely on volunteering of their interpreters, which was very demeaning for them, and the interpreters had to face an ethical dilemma – whether to stay loyal with the clients and interpret for free, which was disadvantageous for their lives and threatening for the profession itself, or to fight for the future of the profession and of their respectable living. After a lot of fighting, negotiations with the politicians, happenings, demonstrations and publicizing of the issue the ASNEP organization and the Register achieved a partial success and got another prepayment from the government. However, the institutional and systematical solution of financial coverage of the interpreting services is still depending on future negotiations. We do hope the situation will change soon to the benefit of both the clients and the SL interpreters.

The Czech Chamber of Sign Language Interpreters

CVP_5-1The Czech Chamber of Sign Language Interpreters (found December 20th 2000) associates Czech sign language interpreters and people who are not interpreters but who agree with Chamber’s views and aims. In the end of the 2010 the number of Chamber members was 116. The Chamber is still mostly consisting of women. In the year 2010 and in the first half of the year 2011 the Chamber worked on the educational projects, both for the hearing and the Deaf public, for the Deaf and hearing intepreters as well. The Chamber has done a lot of work also in the field of culture – mainly theatre interpreting, interpreting of the music (various concerts, cooperation with some music bands etc.). The Chamber finds as highly important the international cooperation with the colleagues abroad. Therefore we keep an eye of what is going abroad in Europe and in the whole world, we are members of EFSLI, cooperate on organizing the EFSLI educational workshops, send out our news in the electronic monthly Bulletin in Pictures and are partners in several international projects.

On December 4th 2010 the interpreters from the Czech Republic had a big day – we enjoyed the long time expected conference and celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Chamber. It was a special occasion to meet friends and colleagues  to learn something new and to see the famous faces of the Deaf community and Sign Language experts from the Czech Republic and abroad. We were happy to invite special presenters and guests, who held interesting lectures, among many others Maya de Witt, Marco Nardi, John Walker or Britta Meinecke. In the evening we celebrated in a more informal way – we had fun with story telling in the Czech Sign Language and with the interpreted songs or we could admire our colleagues wearing special interpreting clothes at the fashion show.

And what are the achievements, why we had the reason to celebrate? What has the 10 years of the existence of the Chamber brought to the Deaf community, to the interpreting profession and to ourselves? Let us now briefly introduce the work of the Chamber.

The Chamber: Education

Tond 5-1Interpreter Through Deaf Child’s Eyes. This project has been carried on with for several years. It aims to systematically pass on the information about SL interpreters and interpreting process to the last year students of special elementary schools for deaf and hard of hearing. Students should get acquainted with and master the theory and practice of interpreting at special workshops. These are the skills which they are likely to be using during the rest of their lifes. We find it crucial to inform children on interpreting issues in day-to-day living when they are still young.

CEP – Certification Education Programme. This is a certification programme for Sign Language interpreters, Transliterators of signed Czech and Visualizers of spoken Czech. It is currently the most extensive educational project of the Chamber and still stays the the main goal for the next years.

The Chamber´s training programme (Certification Education Programme – CEP) can be studied in three specializations: Sign Language Interpreter, Transliterator of Signed Czech and Visualizer of Spoken Czech. Each of them has a different length of training: Sign Language Interpreter programme takes 3,5 years, Transliterators of Signed Czech 2,5 years and Visualizers of Spoken Czech 2 years.

Participants of individual CEP seminars learn in detail about linguistic, psychological, psycho-linguistic, socio-linguistic and other aspects of the corresponding target groups. Besides addressing theoretical questions, systematic interpreting training also focuses on the immersion in practical language training. The seminars are headed by the best and most renowned hearing and deaf experts from the Czech Republic.

CVP_1-1Participants of individual CEP seminars learn in detail about linguistic, psychological, psycho-linguistic, socio-linguistic and other aspects of the corresponding target groups. Besides addressing theoretical questions, systematic interpreting training also focuses on the immersion in practical language training. The seminars are headed by the best and most renowned hearing and deaf experts from the Czech Republic.

To complement the theoretical training a system of supervised practical interpretive training has been put in place for students, who have passed an admission interview in front of a commission. The commission that holds the interview prior to the CEP practical training consists of: a psychologist, a deaf user of interpreting services and a sign language interpreter. This expert panel ensures the quality of the interpreters who will start their practical training under CEP and will therefore, ideally, work directly with clients.

The primary aim of CEP is to enhance the quality and professional level of interpreting services provided to all the Deaf based on their legal right, and to ensure a sufficient number of desired highly qualified professionals in this field.

In connection with this goal the Chamber had decided to develope teaching materials for Sign Language interpreters, transliterators of signed Czech and visualisers of spoken Czech. This project called SPD 3 – Training of Tutors and Developing Teaching Materials for Sign Language Interpreters, Transliterators of Signed Czech and Visualizers of Spoken Czech was launched in March 2006 and finished in February 2008. The materials are now being sold and used by our student interpreters and their trainers. There is now about 50 different books, DVDs and other materials made within the frame of this project.The goal of the project was to create basic materials for the potencial, new and current interpreters of SL in the Czech Republic, publications on various topics and issues, as the interpreting for the Deaf, their culture and language, linguistics of SL etc. These publications are comprehensively covering a vaste area, as no other consistent materials were existing at the beginning of our project.

In the year 2010 we started to offer e-learning courses as an additional option for those interpreters interested in studying who are not able to visit our premises in Prague so often. We have alredy offered 6 complete e-learning courses on various topics.

Other educational events, seminars, lectures etc.

St. Jerome´s days. A traditional series of lectures, seminars and presentations on translation and interpreting takes place annually in November. Every year the Czech Chamber of SL Interpreters presents about the SL interpreting issues there.

Expolingua. The International Fair of Languages, Education and Culture. The CKTZJ is annualy representing their achievementsthere as well.

Interpreter as Communication Bridge between Hearing Physician and Deaf Patient – conferences, workshops, lectures. After two projects focused directly on educating employees in the health sector the Chamber gained experience in the area of heath care. In order to increase the amount of information among the hearing professionals CKTZJ has organised several conferences for the health care employees. As a follow up, proceedings from one of the conferences (containing basic information on the Deaf community, Sign Language and the rules of communication with the Deaf etc.) have been issued together with a DVD featuring personal experience of Deaf patients with commentaries. A total of 500 issues have been released among the experts who were not able to attend the conference but are the ones who meet the Deaf patients the most.

The “Nurse In” program. As an organization specialized in the communication of the deaf we have been several years co-operating with the organization „Sestra In“ (Nurse In). The goal of the co-operation is the education of the medical staff. We have worked on an e-learning lesson about the communication of the deaf and we organized a practical seminar for the nurses and the doctors.

Lectures for the employees of the court. Together with the Chamber of the Court Appointed Interpreters we had the opportunity to bring some new information about the SL interpreting among the employees in the court and in legal settings. Such opportunities give us a hope that there will be less troubled situations for the Deaf in the court.

Others. Members of the CKTZJ are renowned experts in the field of SL interpreting, Sign Language and Deaf Culture. That is why they are invited by various organizations and educational institutions to cooperate with them on trainings and seminars on the given topics. So far the Chambers partners in this field include the College and the Secondary Medical Shool Duškova 7, The Teaching Hospital in Prague on Charles Square, the Faculty of Education at the Charles University in Prague, the Institute of Translation Studies at Charles University in Prague, the Chamber of Court Appointed Interpreters and the Union of Interpreters and Translators.

Being a professional organization aiming to enhance the quality of interpreting services in the Czech Republic, the Chamber has been making various cultural events available also for the Deaf since 2003. Traditional events organised for many years include interpretation of selected theatre performances and music events.

The Chamber: Culture

Being a professional organization aiming to enhance the quality of interpreting services in the Czech Republic, the Chamber has been making various cultural events available also for the Deaf since 2003. Traditional events organised for many years include interpretation of selected theatre performances and music events.

kultura (4)-1Theatre. In the year 2010 and the first half of the year 2011 several theatre plays has been interpreted and two special performances consisting of Deaf actors and the SL interpreters has been newly created. Throughout the whole year many people found the performances very attractive. Tickets vere often sold several weeks before the day of the performance. The performances were well-received not only among the deaf audience but by the hearing public as well. The project of theatre performances interpreted for the Deaf is very exceptional because it is supported by the fact that various international organizations ask the interpreting team to open workshops on interpreting pieces of art in their country.

Music. The interpreting of music is one of the favourite activities of the Chamber as well. Our Deaf interpreters regularly interpret the concerts of the band Cava. Another important cooperation is with the music band Traband. In summer 2011 the group of the CKTZJ interpreters together with a big crowd of both Deaf and hearing people launched the DVD of the Traband. The new DVD is called “The unheard?” and its specialty is that all the songs on this DVD are interpreted into the Czech Sign Language. The event was enjoyed by the Deaf people of all ages and it became an opportunity to contribute to raising awareness about the language, Czech culture and deaf community in a pleasant way.

MUZEJNI_NOC-2Museums. Spreading the information in a pleasant way made us think what kind of culture event we could try to interpret to both mediate a new experience to our Deaf clients and to show the Deaf community and the SL interpreting to the hearing public. This way of thinking led us in the year 2011 to the interpreting of the guided tours in various museums. The highlight of this activity was so called “Museum night”. This annual event took place in Prague in June 2011. It means that all the Prague museums will stay open the whole night and offer guided tours, concets and various cultural events. For the first time all the guided tours in the museums were covered by the Sign Language interpreters. Over 80 Deaf people enjoyed the Museum night. As many people visited this event, we can expect raising the level of knowledge about the Deaf and the SLIs. And this is our goal almost in all activities described before.

The Chamber: The public home and abroad

Bulletin. As mentioned above, the Chamber´s activities are each month described and commented in the regular monthly magazine – the Bulletin. The Czech SL interpreters can find various articles, news, reports on CKTZJ activities, presentations of the projects, invitations to various events and other interesting information from the field of interpreting home and abroad. In 2010 and 2011, the Chamber kept on cooperating with all newspapers and magazines dealing with hearing impairment issues and regularly reported on its activities.

Weblik: electronical news for kids. Our website tries to be as informative as possible. We keep it updated – you can find the calendar with the interesting upcoming events, online signing up for the seminars of our educational program, e-shop where you can buy all of the books and DVDs the Chamber has published in past. Most of the written information is translated into the Czech Sign Language, so the website is full of videos. You can check it yourselves on

The best part of the website is the one devoted to the young Deaf users. It is called Weblik. You can find it under the icon of a light bulb. When you enter Weblik, the background and the graphical look of the website dramatically changes. There are many colours, pictures, funny videos etc. The aim of Weblik is to share information with young children, to give them a place where they would regurarly come to see what´s up in the Deaf world. It is important to us as well that the children gain the relevant information about the SL interpreting in the way they can handle it in order to grow up in educated users of the interpreting services.

Contacts with the international community of Sign Language interpreters. The CKTZJ is in contact with international organizations of the SL interpreters, mainly with the European Forum of Sign Language interpreters (EFSLI). The representatives of CKTZJ attend the Annual General Meeting of EFSLI every year. News from this organization and from all over the world are being each month translated in to Czech and published in the electronic magazine Bulletin which is distributed among the CKTZJ members. Since January 2008 the Chamber issues a monthly electronic magazine Bulletin in Pictures which contains a summary of news from CKTZJ in English. The Bulletin in Pictures is sent to the national and international organizations throughout Europe. If you or your organization is interested in getting our English BIP, you can sign in by writing an e-mail to All the BIPs you can find at the EFSLI web on the NASLI page of CKTZJ, in the section News.

EFSLI Spring Schools. The Chamber and the EFSLI department for training and education have organized two so-called “EFSLI Schools” in Prague. The first EFSLI School was oriented on the interpreting between a national Sign Language and English and was held in 2008 in July. The second course called “Deaf Interpreters in the Team” took place in Prague between April 9-11 2010. There were interpreters from the whole Europe participating. We got a nice feedback from the participants and we feel definitely ready to participate on such international projects in future.

More info:

EuroSign Interpreter. The cooperation with the international community of Sign Language interpreters is very important for the Chamber. Therefore we aim to participate in the international projects and gain new knowledge, general awareness and new goals and friendship via this kind of cooperation. In the year 2010 we became partners of the international project EuroSign Interpreter. The project, in which the Chamber is involved as one of the coordinators, has been running successfully and its goal is to create educational material for training of the SL interpreters who are going to become the bridges between the British, German and Czech Sign Languages.

If you are interested in contacting us, in getting our Bulletin in Pictures or anything else, feel free to visit our website, or to write an e-mail to our contact person for abroad – Radka Faltinova: We will be happy to hear from you :-). Thank you for your interest and support.