Sign Language Day History
International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated every year on 23rd September. This celebration arises from the 2017 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/72/16, which recognizes 23rd September as the International Day of Sign Languages. As per the UN, the resolution establishing the day acknowledges that early access to sign language and services in sign language, including quality education available in sign language, is vital to the growth and development of the deaf individual and critical to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals. It recognizes the importance of preserving sign languages as part of linguistic and cultural diversity.
Introduction to Sign Languages and Indian Sign Language
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages. UN defines Sign languages as fully fledged natural languages, structurally distinct from the spoken languages. Indian Sign Language (ISL) is a natural visual-manual language native to the Deaf community of India and used by both Deaf and Hearing community.
History of Sign Language Day
The International Day of Sign Languages was first celebrated in 2018 as part of the International Week of the Deaf. Since then, every year 23rd September is celebrated as International Day of Sign Languages all over the world. In India, we call it Sign Language Day and celebrate 23rd September every year since 2018. The choice of 23rd September for the Sign Language Day was also because of the fact that the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) was established on the same day in 1951.
Significance of Sign Language Day
The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 23rd September as the International Day of Sign Languages in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf.
Theme of Sign Language Day-2022
The theme of this year Sign Language Day-2022 is “Sign Languages unite us”. As per WFD, on this Day, together we sign onto a declaration of support for sign languages as an essential human right for deaf people, and sign for human rights! On this day, collective efforts of deaf communities, governments, and civil society representatives are made to recognize and promote the different national sign languages around the world.
Sign Language Day Celebration-2022 by DEPwD & ISLRTC
National Implementation Committee (NIC) chaired by Hon’ble Home Minister inter-alia approved the event – “Sign Language Day” on 23rd Sep, 2022 to be conducted and celebrated by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment” (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities), under “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” celebration. On the occasion of this milestone celebration, all the NIs under DEPwD/CRCs/RCs/Associated NGOs/Deaf Schools are advised to conduct various activities to celebrate Sign Language Day within and outside their respective organizations to have maximum public outreach (maximum Jan Bhagidhari).
DEPwD and ISLRTC are making all the possible efforts to bring more citizens, stakeholders, service providing agencies, Deaf schools, NGOs, activists, Deaf leaders, educators, researchers etc. together into the fold of the Sign Language Day in order to create positive awareness about Indian Sign Language among all sections of our society. The Day also reminds us the need and importance of preserving sign languages as a part of linguistic and cultural diversity. All the professionals, parents of Deaf, Deaf students and institutions working in the field of Indian Sign Language, Deaf education and differently abled people from all walks of life are important target group to rope in to the Sign Language Day celebration.