International Day of Sign Languages – September 23

Theme – We sign for Human Rights

By Nikita, Second Year, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, Mumbai.

There are several sign languages used all around the world. In most cases, each location has its local sign language with its unique lexicon. There are several sign languages in many nations. One of the initial records of sign language can be found in Plato’s Cratylus, which was written in the fifteenth century. In 1755, the first school for deaf children was established by Abbé de l’Épée in Paris.

In 1951, September 23rd was chosen to commemorate the founding of the World Federation of Deaf. This day marks the celebration of the commencement of an advocacy organization whose main aim is to preserve “deaf culture” and “sign languages” as a precondition of realizing the human rights of deaf people. International Day of Sign Language was first observed in 2018 as part of the “International Week of the Deaf.” September of 1958 embarks the inaugural of “International Week of the Deaf” and post that, the movement of deaf solidarity has been global and has continuously concentrated lobbying for creating awareness about the challenges and difficulties that deaf people face in their lives.

The “World Federation of the Deaf (WFD),” a federation consisting of 135 national deaf organizations defending roughly 70 million deaf persons’ human rights worldwide, proposed this Day. “The Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations-sponsored resolution A/RES/72/161, which was co-sponsored by 97 UN Member States and adopted by consensus on December 19, 2017.”

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for promoting and protecting the cultural diversity and identities of deaf people and other sign language users is provided in the form of the International Day of Sign Languages. The World Federation of the Deaf has declared “We Sign For Human Rights” as the theme for 2021, underlining how each of us – deaf and hearing people all around the world – should work together to promote the acknowledgment of our right to use sign languages in all aspects of life.

There are more than 70 million deaf people around the globe, according to the World Federation of the Deaf. They make up more than 80% of the world’s population and live in underdeveloped countries. They utilize almost 300 distinct sign languages together.

Sign languages are natural languages. They differ in structure to the language that has been spoken. Whether deaf individuals travel, socialize, or present themselves in an international meeting, they utilize sign language that has been internationally recognized. International sign language is a Creole type of sign language, which is not as sophisticated as natural sign language as it has a restricted lexicon.

Sign languages are recognized and encouraged by the “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” It establishes that sign languages have the same status as spoken languages and calls for the states to promote sign language study and encourage the deaf community’s linguistic identity.

The “International Day of Sign Languages” was declared by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to be September 23rd to promote consciousness of the relevance of sign language in the fulfillment of deaf people’s human rights.

According to the resolution established that day, for the growth and progress of people belonging to the deaf community and the accomplishment of globally accepted development goals, timely accessibility to sign language and assistance in sign language, particularly excellent education obtainable in sign language is essential. “It recognizes sign languages as a significant part of linguistic and cultural diversity.” In terms of dealing with deaf populations, it also highlights the idea of “nothing about us without us.”

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