Context: Sign Language Day was observed on September 23, with the theme “A World Where Deaf People Everywhere Can Sign Anywhere!” by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), located in New Delhi.

The World Sign Language Day’s History:

In December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly formally declared World Sign Language Day.
September 23rd was selected as the celebration of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) founding date in 1951. The WFD is a global organization that promotes the welfare and rights of people who are deaf everywhere.

A Special Language of Inclusion and Expression: Sign Language:

Deaf and hard of hearing people, as well as others with communication difficulties, utilize sign language as a natural visual-gestural language to express ideas, feelings, and messages.
It is a sophisticated and intricate mode of communication that combines body language, facial expressions, hand forms, and movements.
There is no universal sign language; several nations and areas have their own unique sign languages.

Over 70 million individuals worldwide identify as deaf, according to the World Federation of the Deaf. Over 80 percent of them reside in developing nations. Together, they employ over 300 distinct sign languages.

Historical Context:

  • Early Origins: Written language is not as old as sign language, which has a much longer history. For generations, deaf cultures have established their identities and communicated through sign languages.
  • Achievements: The development of sign languages for Deaf education by educators such as Charles-Michel de l’Épée in France and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet in the United States throughout the 18th century is credited with the creation of formal sign languages.

Language Organization:

  • Grammatical and Syntax: Unlike spoken languages, sign languages have unique grammar and syntax. They use non-verbal cues, word arrangement, and facial expressions to communicate meaning.
  • Vocabulary: The vast vocabularies of sign languages are frequently based on conceptual illustrations. Signs can be iconic, which means they bear a resemblance to the thing or action they stand for.
  • Regional Variation: Sign languages contain regional variances, just like spoken languages do. Sign languages and dialects can vary greatly throughout nations and even cities.

Sign Language Types:

Natural sign languages are the main form of communication among Deaf populations, having arisen naturally within them. British Sign Language (BSL), French Sign Language (LSF), and American Sign Language (ASL) are a few examples.

  • Manually Coded Languages: These are the languages in which spoken language is represented by signs. Cued speech and Signed Exact English (SEE) are two examples. These are frequently applied in learning environments.

The Sign Languages’ Significance

  • An Essential Form of Communication: Deaf and hard of hearing persons utilize sign languages, which are natural visual-gestural languages, to communicate with hearing people as well as with each other. They have their own syntax, lexicon, and grammar, and they are sophisticated, full languages.
  • Encouraging Inclusivity: Sign languages are essential for removing obstacles to communication and encouraging inclusivity. They provide deaf people with the opportunity to fully engage in society, education, and other facets of daily life.
  • Sign languages are an essential component of the deaf community’s cultural identity, serving as more than just a means of communication. Honoring these languages is a way to recognize and honor the variety of deaf cultures that exist.