INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SIGN LANGUAGES
International Day of Sign Languages on September 23rd recognizes the importance of language through signing. According to the UN, early access to sign language is vital to the growth and development of deaf individuals. The day takes place during International Deaf Week in the last week of September.
According to the World Health Organization, 466 million people around the world have disabling hearing loss. For some of these people, hearing aids and other assistive devices help improve their hearing. However, in some instances, the type and severity of hearing loss prevent any benefit from hearing aids. Others don’t have access to hearing aids. For these people, sign language is the only way to communicate. Because of this, sign languages is considered just as important as a spoken language.
Sign language is not a universal language. Some of the most common ones throughout the world include:
- British Sign Language (BSL)
- French Sign Language (FSL)
- American Sign Language (ASL)
- Irish Sign Language (ISL)
- Chinese Sign Language (CSL or ZGS)
- Indo-Pakistani Sign Language
In some countries, access to sign language is common. However, others, such as South Asia, Indo-Pakistani sign language lacks support. In Inda, 1.8 million people live with deafness and yet only 250 certified language interpreters work in the country. For reasons like this, it’s important to spread awareness about the importance of sign language.
The UN recognizes that sign language is a human right for the deaf. Every deaf person in every country should have access to learning it.
HOW TO OBSERVE #DayOfSignLanguages
Along with spreading awareness about the importance of sign language, these events educate the public on disabling hearing loss.
An excellent way to participate is by learning sign language.
You can learn by watching a video online or taking an enrichment class. Learn sign language with your children. Educate yourself on the importance of sign language. Share this day on social media with #DayOfSignLanguages or #IDSL.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SIGN LANGUAGES HISTORY
The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) first requested an international day to recognize the importance of sign languages. On December 19, 2017, the United Nations passed the resolution and declared September 23rd International Day of Sign Languages. This date commemorates the establishment of WFD in 1951. The first International Day of Sign Languages was observed in 2018 under the theme, “With Sign Language, Everyone is Included!”