International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated on 23 September every year. Sign language is a common language that is quite different from spoken languages. This day provides us with the opportunity to support the linguistic and cultural identity of deaf people and other individuals who use sign language.
More than 300 sign languages are used by people collectively. The International Day of Sign Languages encourages early access to sign language and services in sign language like quality education, which is crucial for the development and growth of the hearing-impaired community.
International Day of Sign Languages: History
The World Federation of Deaf gave the proposal for establishing the International Day of Sign Languages. The date chosen for the celebration was 23 September, as it marked the anniversary of the WFD’s formation in 1951. This day was commemorated for the first time in 2018 as a part of the International Week of the Deaf. The International Week of the Deaf takes place in the fourth week of September every year. It was celebrated for the first time in 1958.
Visual Story on Tips to Learn Sign Language
International Day of Sign Languages: Theme
This year’s theme for the 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.
International Day of Sign Languages: Significance
Sign languages are visual languages that pass your message through the use of symbols. Every country has its sign language. The International Day of Sign Language throws light on the importance of preserving this medium of communication, especially for deaf people.
The day also focuses on the internationally agreed development goals and the achievements that are associated with them.
Interesting Facts about International Day of Sign Language:
Here are some interesting facts related to the deaf and hard of hearing community that will help you better understand the significance of the International Day of Sign Languages:
- Sign language is not a universal language. In the United States and parts of Canada, the deaf community uses the American Sign Language (ASL). In the UK, British Sign Language (BSL) is used by the deaf community.
- American Sign Language has a different structure, grammar, and syntax from the English language.
- The third most common disability in the world is deafness according to the British Deaf Association (BDA).
- Nine of 10 deaf children are born to hearing parents, but only one out of those parents learn sign language, as per the BDA.
International Day of Sign Language: Quotes
- “Sign language is the equal of speech, lending itself equally to the rigorous and the poetic, to philosophical analysis or to making love.” – Oliver Sacks
- “If you are to reach masses of people in this world, you must do it by sign language. Whether your vehicle is commerce, literature, or politics, you can do nothing but raise signals, and make motions to the people.” – John Jay Chapman
- “I come from a place where you don’t need to talk all the time. There are sign languages you learn.” – Warwick Thornton
- “Sign language is the noblest gift God has given to deaf people.” – George Veditz
How to observe the International Day of Sign Languages?
- Learn a sign language
- Join in creating awareness
- Host a fundrasing event
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why do we celebrate the International Day of Sign Languages?
International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated to support the development and preservation of sign language on 23 September. This day aims to spread awareness regarding the importance of sign language in the realisation of the human rights of people who are deaf.
2. When was the first international sign language celebrated?
The WFD gave the proposal for establishing the International Day of Sign Languages. 23 September was chosen to celebrate this day as it marked the anniversary of the WFD’s formation in 1951.
3. Who invented sign language?
The first person the creation of formal sign language for the hearing impaired was Pedro Ponce de León, a 16th-century Spanish Benedictine monk.
4. Who is the father of sign language?
Charles Michel de l’Épée was a pioneer in the education of the deaf and dumb. He was a philanthropic educator of 18th century France who become known as the “Father of the Deaf”.
5. Who was the first deaf person in the world?
Quintus Pedius was the first deaf person known all across the world.