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First ever International Day of Sign Languages with theme 'With Sign Language, Everyone is Included!' to be observed on September 23
The first International Day of Sign languages, proclaimed by the United Nation, is going to be celebrated this year on 23rd September under the theme "With Sign Language, Everyone is Included!" to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are hearing impaired.

"Sign languages are fully fledged natural languages, structurally distinct from the spoken languages. There is also an international sign language, which is used by deaf people in international meetings and informally when travelling and socializing. It is considered a pidgin form of sign language that is not as complex as natural sign languages and has a limited lexicon," states the UN website while stressing the need for preserving sign languages as part of linguistic and cultural diversity.

The UN has urged the world community for an 'early access to sign language and services in sign language, including quality education available in sign language, is vital to the growth and development of the deaf individual and critical to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals'. Accordingly, the UN resolution for establishing the observance acknowledges the principle of 'nothing about us without us' while working with deaf communities.

Quoting the World Federation of the Deaf, the UN website informs that there are approximately 72 million deaf people worldwide, of which more than 80% live in developing countries using more than 300 different sign languages.

Furthermore, the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes and promotes the use of sign languages and deems them 'equal in status to spoken languages and obligates states parties to facilitate the learning of sign language and promote the linguistic identity of the deaf community'.

It would be pertinent to know that the 'Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC)' was inaugurated in 2012 to 'honour the natural language and culture of 8 millions deaf Indians' with a focus on 'conducting research in ISL, training interpreters, and preparing teachers to use bilingual approach in teaching deaf children' with the precept that 'ideas and language are derived from speech and its functions and 'the knowledge of sign language comes not by the study of deaf people, but it comes while studying with them'.

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