Atlantis Medical News

International Day of Sign Languages

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24 SEP 2018

Today, in the modern era, sign languages are considered as a usual language just like any other language. They are used by moving hands to express feelings and thoughts. It is combined with both manual and non-manual elements. Being a full-fledged language, they have their own grammar and lexicon. The theory of WDF proclaims that worldwide, the total number of deaf people is 72 million approximately.

There are 300 different sign languages, though there are also striking similarities among them, but some of them are going to be extinct because of peoples’ habit of shifting language. For example, the Hawai'i Sign Language and New Zealand Sign Language are losing users. But recently, methods have been discovered to assess the language vitality of sign language. Although sign language research has made much progress in the past decades, most sign languages in the world remain hardly described or entirely undocumented. The bulk of linguistic work has only affected a few sign languages in industrialised countries, to help the deaf people to move on their road for a better life.

With the help of sign language, the life of deaf people becomes easier and it also gives the empowerment to communicate with most people.

Recently, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 23rd September as the International Day of Sign Languages. The resolution was initially adopted by consensus during the 48th meeting of the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, 16th November 2017 and officially adopted today at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

The World Federation of the Deaf(WFD), for which the BDA is the UK’s representative, worked with the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations to bring the proposal forward.

The choice of 23rd September commemorates the date on which the WFD was established in 1951. The first International Day of Sign Languages will be celebrated on 23rd September 2018 as part of the International Week for the Deaf, a global initiative pioneered by the WFD.

The International Day of Sign Languages will raise awareness of sign languages and enhance the quality of life for Deaf communities, including in the UK. It will be an opportunity for governments, organisations and communities across the world to get together and reflect on the history, culture, and modern-day challenges facing sign languages.

Dr Terry Riley OBE, chair of the British Deaf Association, said that she welcomed this resolution. According to her, without sign language rights we do not have human rights. The UN Convention stands with the person of disabilities, for making a better world for deaf people to protect deaf people’s rights so that they can live with dignity. Everyone should come forward to help them feel that they are no different from others.

World Federation of the Deaf President Colin Allen said that this resolution maintains the importance of sign language and it also emphasises the principle of “nothing about us without us” in terms of working with Deaf Communities.


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