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International Day of Sign Languages 2021: Theme, History, Significance, Quotes, Messages, and more

Shikha Goyal

International Day of Sign Languages 2021: As per the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), more than 70 million people are deaf worldwide. Out of them, more than 80% live in developing countries. Overall, they use more than 300 different sign languages.

International Day of Sign Languages is observed on September 23. The day provides a unique opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users across the world, according to the UN.

What are Sign languages?

Sign language is any means of communication through bodily movements, mainly those of the hands and arms. It is used when spoken communication is not possible or not desirable.

Or we can say that they are fully-fledged natural languages, structurally different from spoken languages. For the deaf people, there is also an international sign language, which is used by them in international meetings and informally via travelling and socialising. It is expressed as a pidgin form of sign language. It is not as complex as natural sign language and has a limited lexicon.

The use of sign languages has been recognised and promoted by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). That is sign languages are equal in status to spoken language and obligates states parties to facilitate the learning of sign language and promote the linguistic identity of the deaf community.

International Day of Sign Languages 2021: Theme

The theme for International Day of Sign Languages 2021 is “We Sign For Human Rights". It highlights how each of us deaf and hearing people across the world can work together hand in hand to promote the recognition of our right to use sign languages in all areas of life, as per the UN.

International Day of Sign Languages 2021: History

The proposal for the International Day of the Sign Languages came from the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). The resolution A/RES/72/161 was adopted by consensus on December 19, 2017 which was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and co-sponsored by 97 United Nations Member States.

When was the International Day of Sign Languages first time celebrated?

The day was first time celebrated in 2018 as a part of the International Week of the Deaf.  September 23 was chosen because on this date the WFD was established in 1951.

For the first time, the International Week of the Deaf was celebrated in September 1958.

International Day of Sign Languages 2021: Significance

The day acknowledges that early access to sign language and services in sign language like quality education available in sign language is significant to the growth and development of the deaf people and critical to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals.

The day also highlights the importance of preserving sign languages as a part of linguistic and cultural diversity. It also focuses on the principle of "nothing about us without us" in relation to working with deaf communities.

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International Day of Sign Languages 2021: Quotes

1. "Sign language is the noblest gift God has given to deaf people." - George Veditz

2. "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

3. "The symbolic view of things is a consequence of long absorption in images. Is sign language the real language of Paradise?" - Hugo Ball

4. "Human eyes are the sign language of the brain. If you watch them carefully, you can see the truth played out, raw and unguarded." - Tarryn Fisher

5. "I come from a place where you don't need to talk all the time. There are sign languages you learn." - Warwick Thornton

6. "Systems of morals are only a sign-language of the emotions." - Friedrich Nietzsche

7. "You can never comprehend sign language until you understand the reason behind it.' - Unknown

International Day of Sign Languages 2021: Messages and Wishes

1. Just idiotic hearing individuals imagine that hard of hearing individuals are moronic. Let’s celebrate the day when the tone of voice is not judged.

2. The deaf actually uses their hands to convey their messages, understand and respect the sign languages. Wishing the whole community a very interactive sign language day!

3. The issue isn’t that the deaf doesn’t hear but it's that the world chooses to ignore. This sign language day let’s learn how to communicate better.

4. Sign language is the equal of speech, lending itself equally to the rigorous and the poetic, to philosophical analysis, or to making love.

5. Learning sign languages isn’t just learning the various signs for very similar things, however learning another approach to consider things.

6. I wish you the Happy International Day of Sign Languages!

7. Frameworks of ethics are just a sign-language of feelings. Use sign languages and let your actions convey your feelings.

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