23rd September is observed by the United Nations as the International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL). It seeks to “raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf.”
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are around 72 million deaf people across the world. Put together, they use around 300 different sign languages. This day recognizes the importance of sign language in the growth and development of the deaf and seeks to preserve it for the benefit of the deaf community.
According to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres
“This International Day recognizes the importance of sign languages for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and fulfilling its core promise of leaving no one behind. It also offers an opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all sign language users.”
Why is it observed on 23rd September?
The IDSL is observed on 23rd September to commemorate the date of establishment of the World Federation of the Deaf, a non-profit and non-governmental organization of over 130 national associations of deaf people.
According to its website, the World Federation of the Deaf “works to ensure deaf people across the globe are equipped with the knowledge, tools and strategies to advocate for, achieve and defend their rights.”
The first IDSL was observed on 23rd September 2018.
Theme for the 2019 International Day of Sign Languages
The theme for the 2019 International Day of Sign Languages is ‘Sign Language Rights for All!’
According to the United Nations website, this theme coincides with the International Week of the Deaf, which is observed from 23-29th September annually. Every day of this week has a distinct theme.
- Monday, 23 September – Sign Language Rights for All!
- Tuesday, 24 September – Sign Language Rights for All Children
- Wednesday, 25 September – Sign Language Rights for Deaf Senior Citizens
- Thursday, 26 September – Sign Language Rights for DeafBlind People and Deaf People With Disabilities.
- Friday, 27 September – Sign Language Rights for Deaf Women
- Saturday, 28 September – Sign Language Rights for Deaf LGBTIQA+
- Sunday, 29 September – Sign Language Rights for Deaf Refugees
This International Day of Sign Languages, let’s ensure that the deaf have access to all the tools that enable them to have equal opportunities and thrive in the same manner as all others do.
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