International Day of Sign Languages
The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf. Sign language gives people, who are hard of hearing, a medium to converse. As the name suggests, this day aims to spread awareness regarding the importance of sign language in the realisation of the human rights of people who are deaf.
The theme for the 2022 International Day of Sign languages is “Sign Languages Unite Us!”. Deaf communities, governments and civil society organisations maintain their collective efforts in fostering, promoting and recognising national sign languages as part of their countries’ vibrant and diverse linguistic landscapes.
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages
Sign languages are visual languages that pass your message through the use of gestures or symbols. Each country has its own sign language, for eg- in the US, it is American sign language whereas in the UK it is British sign language. The International Day of Sign Language throws light on the importance of preserving this medium of communication for deaf people. The day also gives a stage for the development of sign language. It also focuses on the internationally agreed development goals and the achievements associated with them.
- The proposal for the Day came from the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), a federation of 135 national associations of deaf people, representing approximately 70 million deaf people’s human rights worldwide.
- The resolution A/RES/72/161 was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, co-sponsored by 97 United Nations Member States and adopted by consensus on 19 December 2017.
- The choice of 23 September commemorates the date that the WFD was established in 1951. This day marks the birth of an advocacy organisation, which has as one of its main goals, the preservation of sign languages and deaf culture as pre-requisites to the realisation of the human rights of deaf people.
- The International Day of Sign Languages was first celebrated in 2018 as part of the International Week of the Deaf.
- The International Week of the Deaf was first celebrated in September 1958 and 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.