As world marks International Day of Sign Languages, what we should know

Published on Sep 23, 2022 10:22 AM IST

International Day Of Sign Languages: This year will mark the fifth such celebration which seeks to encourage early access to sign language and services such as quality education among the community.

International Day Of Sign Languages: There are over 70 million deaf people in the world, and over 300 different sign languages are used by them.(Unsplash)
International Day Of Sign Languages: There are over 70 million deaf people in the world, and over 300 different sign languages are used by them.(Unsplash)
By, New Delhi

September 23 marks the International Day of Sign Languages - a day celebrated every year with the aim to spread awareness surrounding the development and preservation of sign languages to support the hearing-impaired community and others who use them as means to communicate.

According to reports, the World Federation of the Deaf – comprising 135 national associations of deaf people – had come up with a proposal to observe the day. In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed September 23 as the official day to celebrate the International Day of Sign Languages.

This year will mark the fifth such celebration which seeks to encourage early access to sign language and services such as quality education among the community. According to the WFD, there are over 70 million deaf people worldwide (most of them in developing countries), and 300 different sign languages are used by them.

Sign languages - though structurally distinct from spoken languages - are visual languages that use gestures or symbols to communicate. Interestingly, there is also an international sign language – with a limited lexicon and less complex as natural sign languages tend to be – which is used by our fellow 'deaf' community in international meetings, sometimes informally too when travelling and socializing.

The International Day of Sign Languages was first celebrated in 2018 as part of the International Week of the Deaf.

The theme for this year's celebration is 'Sign Language Unite Us'. “The country leaders - whether Prime Ministers, Presidents, other government officials, members of parliaments, members of city council - should sign this year’s theme “Sign Languages Unite Us!” in their national sign language," the federation wrote on its official site.

First celebrated in September 1958, the International Week of the Deaf has since evolved into a global movement of "deaf unity and concerted advocacy" to raise awareness of the issues deaf people face in their everyday lives, the United Nations has said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    A journalist with 4+ years with digital media, Shubhangi Gupta covers political, world, and business news for Hindustan Times, New Delhi.

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