Snorri Deaf 2018 Reflections

Updated: Jul 11, 2019



The following article is written by IR Volunteer and teacher, Bryndís Viglundsdóttir. She is the energy behind a wonderful idea to start a Snorri program for those who are deaf and speak sign language. They recently held a meeting in Iceland to share reflections of their visit.

This photo is of Bryndís. She is standing alongside a painting of herself as a younger woman. Read on about the Snorri Deaf visit to North America and their celebration at the recent Deaf Association of Iceland meeting.

Two Snorri Deaf and one interpreter visited Minnesota, North Dakota, and Manitoba last September. The visit and the entire experience was a total success. How so?

First of all, the human encounter was beautiful. Meetings were held with many people both those hearing and those deaf. Information flowed back and forth. The trio from Iceland were taken to the many Icelandic settlements in this vast area and told about the people who came from Iceland. They met people of Icelandic descent still living in these areas. Last but not least, they met a great many more deaf people with whom they could communicate and exchange valuable information. Our Snorris returned home filled with new knowledge, gratitude, and many great ideas that will benefit the Icelandic deaf community.

On the 13th of November, The Deaf Association of Iceland and specifically the three who attended this first Snorri Deaf program to North America, invited all people to come hear more about their wonderful adventure. Everyone was invited to come learn more about the Snorri Deaf project. A good number of people showed up.


Those involved with the planning and implementation of the Snorri Deaf project Júlía, Bryndís, Vala, Halldór, Heiðdís, and Árný at the meeting

The Snorris, Heiðdís and Júlía planned the program. Heiðdís bid everyone welcome and invited me to talk about the topic: "Why Snorri Deaf?" Sometimes, in the planning process, we were asked, "Why don't deaf people just join groups of the hearing Snorris?" I explained that these two groups speak different languages and interpretation for the deaf is imperative for the success of their visit. There is also an acute interest among the deaf to meet other deaf persons and communicate with them. So we realized this would best be accomplished by separate visits to provide the optimal experience.

Halldór Árnason, Chairman of the Snorri Foundation, spoke about the three other Snorri programs. He commended the involvement and support by the Icelandic National League of North America and by Icelandic Roots both led by Sunna Furstenau of North Dakota. He was very impressed and pleased with the success of this pilot visit by the Snorri Deaf. He challenged the deaf community to become active and take responsibility for organizing the future Snorri deaf visits to North America and reciprocal visits to Iceland.

Júlía gave a presentation about the many places they visited and people they met. She showed good pictures and told stories of the wonderful experience. They were overwhelmed with the hospitality and kindness they met everywhere. Soon there will be a thorough account of the Snorri Deaf visit 2018 published in Lögberg-Heimskringla.

Heiðdís talked about the importance of the Snorri deaf for the deaf community of Iceland and said that such a program doesn't happen in a vacuum. She urged people to become volunteers to work for the continued life of the program. She also announced that we will receive two Snorri deaf from North America next summer with their interpreter. They will be with us for just over one week. "Let's plan to show them the kind of hospitality we enjoyed in North America when we visited there," said Heiðdís.

Árný was the interpreter for the visit to North America. She and two others took turns interpreting at this meeting. During the visit to North America, Árný did an amazing job. Usually, the interpretation for an 8 day visit would have called for two interpreters because of the intense amount of interpretation needed. Because of the tight budget, Árný agreed to handle the entire tour. We so appreciate Árný and her ability to fulfill such an important responsibility.

The last item on the program was a poem, delivered beautifully in sign language by Heiðdís's daughter.

The other person in the photo above is Vala. She is the Director of the Center of Communication for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Iceland and a devoted supporter of the Snorri Deaf Program.

All people associated with this pilot program, Snorri Deaf, are overjoyed and grateful to everyone who participated and those who donated their time, finances, homes, and talents. You all helped to make this project an overwhelming success. We are looking forward to next summer when the reciprocal visit will occur here in Iceland.


Here is a video made for the project:


For more information on the Snorri Deaf project, if you would like to help in some way, or if you are a deaf / hard of hearing person who speaks sign language and are of Icelandic ancestry, please contact us. You may contact us in English. For help with the Icelandic text in the boxes:

Nafn - Name

Netfang - Email address

Efni - Subject of email

Fyrirspurn - Body of the email


Icelandic Roots is a non-profit, educational, heritage organization specializing in genealogy, history & traditions of our Icelandic ancestors.

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