Sign Language Day in India: The Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), an autonomous body within the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, will be celebrated ‘Sign Language Day’ on September 23, 2021.
- ISLRTC is based in New Delhi:
- Ever since the United Nations declared 23rd September as the International Sign Language Day, the ISLRTC has celebrated it every year.
- During the programme, the Centre presented a documentary on the ‘Indian Sign Language Journey’.
- The winners of the 4thIndian Sign Language Competition, 2021 – a national-level competition held for students with hearing disabilities were also announced.
ISLRTC had signed an MoU with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in 2020 for converting NCERT textbooks from Class I to XII into Indian Sign Language (digital format) to make the textbooks accessible to children with hearing disabilities.
The first phase of the project for the conversion of Class I to V textbooks has been completed and e-Content thereof will be launched during the programme.
About International Day of Sign Languages:
- International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated annually across the world on 23 September every year along with International Week of the Deaf.
- The day supports and protects the linguistic identity of people who are deaf along with other users of sign languages.
The theme of 2021:
- The 2021 theme, declared by the World Federation of the Deaf, is “We Sign For Human Rights,”.
- This theme highlights how each of us – deaf and hearing people around the world – can work together hand in hand to promote the recognition of our right to use sign languages in all areas of life.
- World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), a federation of 135 national associations of deaf people, proposed International Day of Sign Languages.
- The resolution for the same was adopted by consensus on 19 December 2017.
- The first International Day of Sign Languages was observed in 2018.
- The date 23 September was chosen because it marks the establishment of WFD in 1951.
What are sign languages?
- Sign languages (also known as signed languages) are languages that use the visual-manual modality to convey meaning.
- Sign languages are expressed through manual articulations in combination with non-manual elements.
- Sign languages are full-fledged natural languages with their own grammar and lexicon.
- The United Nations (UN) describes sign languages as full-fledged natural languages, structurally distinct from spoken languages.
Significance of sign language:
- Sign language protects ‘linguistic identity and cultural diversity’ of all users.
- Sign language not only plays an important role in educating people, but also is vital in creating employment and vocational training for persons with hearing disabilities.
- According to the WFD, there are approximately 72 million deaf people worldwide, more than 80 per cent of whom live in developing countries.
- Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.