International Day of Sign Language held on Sunday, September 23, 2018, is celebrated in admiration of people with hearing impairment as they continue their lives with sign languages. International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf) was first launched in Rome in 1958 and is celebrated annually in the last week of September.
The occasion is held under United Nation’s declaration to honor the hearing –impaired people of the world for their hard work to approach education and professional advancement.
Sign language day has a grand, loft and striking purposes to emphasize the significance of sign language in the society to leave no one behind.
This year the event is titled as “With Sign Language, Everyone is Included”. This event covers some collective goals of the IDSL and IWDeaf such as influencing and affecting as many governments as possible to officially fulfill requirements of the deaf community.
It also emphasizes Promoting deaf people as sign language and deaf culture boosts multilingualism and is means of sponsoring, protecting, and defending the variety of languages and cultures globally.
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are approximately 72 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 equal to spoken languages. It is fully-fledged natural language, which is structurally different from spoken languages, alongside which they coexist.
Sign language is key to the rights of the deaf and vital tool of communication for tens of thousands of deaf and deafblind people all-around the world. But in some places due to the lack of knowledge of sign language many children and adults who are deaf or deafblind are deprived of communicating with others and have less access to education and work.
People wrongly claimed that deaf and deafblind people, as well as other inhabitants with severe disabilities, could not be educated. But many cases around the world shows that by learning sign language, deaf and deafblind people can enjoy their basic rights and needs of education, professional development, and political life. Early contact to sign language, comprising of excellent education available in sign language, is crucial to the progress and advancement of the deaf society.
On the International Day of Sign Languages, it’s important to remember that without educating the deaf society, we’re missing out on the precious contributions all people with disabilities can make to society.
Ambassador Walton Webson of the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations said ´This resolution is an important milestone in our international promise “to leave no one behind”. The acclimation of 23 September as the international day of sign languages is a significant step in the universalization of all communities to recognize the objectives set out in article 21 of the UNCRPD to meet our universal goal of inclusion.
World Federation of the Deaf President Colin Allen said ‘This resolution recognizes the importance of sign language and services in sign language being available to deaf people as early in life as possible. It also emphasizes the principle of “nothing about us without us” in terms of working with Deaf Communities.