International Day of Sign Languages celebrated across world on Sep 23

Published: Sep 23, 2019, 8:11 am IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the occasion of International Day of Sign Languages, on Monday said, “We must stand by the people who are specially-abled.”

“Today is the International Day of Sign Languages and also marks the beginning of
the International Week of the Deaf. We must stand by the people who are specially-abled,”   Banerjee tweeted.
International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated annually across the world on this
day every year along with International Week of the Deaf in order to raise awareness of
the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared September 23 as International
Day of Sign Languages as part of the International Week of the Deaf.

The choice of September 23 commemorates the date that the World Federation of
Deaf (WFD) was established in 1951. By promoting human rights and access to sign
language, the WFD is working to improve the lives of millions of deaf people who face
inequality every day. The International Week of the Deaf (fourth week of September) was first celebrated in September 1958 and has since evolved as annual event globally.

The WFD strongly believes that the present United Nations resolution is a valuable
extension of this tradition and has the potential to increase the understanding of United Nations member states, the private sector and the United Nations’ system in closing existing gaps in the achievement of human rights for deaf people.

This resolution recognizes the importance of sign language and services in sign
language, including quality education available to deaf people as early in life as
possible. It is vital to the growth and development of the deaf individual and significant
to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals.

It recognizes the importance of preserving sign languages as part of linguistic and
cultural diversity. It also emphasizes the principle of “nothing about us without us” in
terms of working with deaf communities.

According to the WFD, there are approximately 72 million deaf people worldwide.
More than 80 per cent of them live in developing countries. Collectively, they use more
than 300 different sign languages.

Sign languages are fully fledged natural languages, structurally distinct from the
spoken languages. There is also an international sign language, which is used by
deaf people in international meetings and informally when travelling and socializing.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes and promotes
the use of sign languages. It makes clear that sign languages are equal in status to
spoken languages and obligates states parties to facilitate the learning of sign
language and promote the linguistic identity of the deaf community. (UNI)