International Day of Sign Languages, observed annually on September 23rd, is a global celebration dedicated to recognizing the importance and richness of sign languages in fostering inclusivity and accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities worldwide. This day provides an opportunity to shed light on the history, significance, and ongoing efforts to promote and protect sign languages.
The Significance of Sign Languages: Sign languages are complete and complex languages with their own syntax and grammar. They are fundamental tools for communication for millions of deaf individuals and those with hearing impairments. Sign languages not only bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds but also form the foundation of cultural identity and heritage for many communities.
Historical Background: International Day of Sign Languages was established by the United Nations in 2018 to raise awareness about the importance of sign languages and the rights of deaf people. The date, September 23rd, was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), founded in 1951, which plays a vital role in advocating for the rights and well-being of the global deaf community.
Key Facts and Figures:
- It is estimated that there are over 72 million deaf people worldwide.
- There are more than 300 different sign languages used across the globe, each with its own unique characteristics.
- The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes sign languages as a means of communication and emphasizes the importance of their promotion and protection.
- Sign languages contribute significantly to cognitive development, language acquisition, and social integration for deaf children.
Promoting Inclusivity: International Day of Sign Languages serves as a platform for promoting inclusivity and equal access to education, information, and services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Efforts are made to break down communication barriers by encouraging the use of sign languages in various settings, including education, workplaces, and public services.
- “Sign languages are not just tools for communication; they are the essence of our culture and identity.” – WFD
- “International Day of Sign Languages is a reminder that diversity in communication is a strength, not a limitation.” – Desmond Sperbeck, HiP Magazine
International Day of Sign Languages is a day of celebration, recognition, and advocacy for the rights of the deaf community worldwide. It reminds us of the beauty and diversity of sign languages and their vital role in ensuring that no one is left behind in our global society. Let us continue to work together to break down communication barriers and build a more inclusive world for all.