International Day of Sign Languages

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2024 Date23 September 2024
2025 Date23 September 2025

International Day of Sign Languages

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International Day of Sign Languages History

International Day of Sign Languages is a global observance aimed at raising awareness about the significance of sign languages as essential means of communication for the deaf community. It emphasizes the importance of promoting and supporting the linguistic rights of deaf people for their social, economic, and cultural development. The day also highlights the need for institutions and governments to recognize and encourage the use of sign languages in educational and public settings.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 23rd September as International Day of Sign Languages in 2017. In India, there are approximately 5 million deaf individuals, and Indian Sign Language (ISL) is their primary mode of communication. The recognition of ISL by the Government of India in 2016 was a significant step forward in acknowledging the linguistic and cultural rights of the deaf community. Additionally, the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) has been working collaboratively with various organizations to develop standardized signs and teaching methods for ISL.

To commemorate International Day of Sign Languages in India, various programs and events are organized throughout the country. These events include awareness campaigns, workshops, seminars, and cultural performances, typically led by organizations working towards deaf rights and development. These initiatives present opportunities for the deaf community to showcase their talents and create a better understanding of their diverse culture and needs among the general public. Additionally, it serves as a platform to advocate for more accessibility and inclusion in education, employment, and public life for deaf individuals. International Day of Sign Languages in India is held on the same date as the global observance, i.e., 23rd September.

International Day of Sign Languages facts

  • September 23rd was chosen as the date to celebrate this day because the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) was established on this day in 1951.
  • Studies involving eye tracking show that sign language users have a different visual perception, focusing on the face and using peripheral vision to catch the signs.
  • Babies can learn to use sign language before they can even talk. This can help reduce frustration and increase parent-child communication. Baby signing won’t delay verbal speech, and can actually enhance language and cognitive development.
  • India has over 20 schools and institutions for the deaf, providing education through the medium of Indian Sign Language.
  • Despite the widespread use of ISL, the language's development and standardization have been hindered by a lack of formal recognition, education, and public awareness.

Top things to do in India for this observance

  • Look for Indian movies, documentaries, or short films in sign languages. Watching these can help you familiarize yourself with the gestures, facial expressions, and grammar used in Indian sign languages.
  • Explore websites, blogs, and YouTube channels dedicated to Indian sign languages. There are various online platforms that offer video tutorials, dictionary resources, and cultural insights into the deaf community in India.

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