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Towards official acceptance of sign language in India: Special on International Day of Sign Language
With some recent run of events like the CBSE's proposal to introduce the sign language in schools; hearing by Delhi High Court's writ petition filed by social activist Nipun Malhotra for inclusion of Indian Sign Language (ISL) in the Eighth Schedule; and first ever observance of International Day of Sign language on September 23, the hope for sign language being officially recognized and accepted as separate language has heightened.

In some of the recent conferences such as the conference on inclusive education in Patiala of Punjab and conference on early childhood care in education at Indian Institute of Education in Pune of Maharastra, the papers were accepted / presented on the basis of the research at Disha Foundation in Jaipur to stress the need of including sign language as a part of teacher and parental education as multimodal communication style.

ISL is a home grown method of communicating non-verbally by using hand gestures, hand movements, positioning of body limbs, and facial expressions. "Our studies have indicated that there is a positive relationship between language developments of children in the age group of 10-24 months or toddlers with the gestures their parents produce. There are also evidences that children can acquire a gesture-triggered spoken vocabulary of 30-50 words through gestures if systematic deliberate efforts or intervention is made by the parents and functionaries of child care centres," says the lead researcher at Disha in Jaipur.

Another design and development study at Disha focuses on creating Gesture Language Literacy Course Resource Material for Special Educators in which 150 odd words have identified for teachers and educators for use to enliven the classroom learning and make a shift towards multi-modal communication.

Here is my ABC verse on multi-modal communication of which use of essential sign language words is the main component.

ABC of multi-modal communication

A: Allowing creativity and flexibility in the interaction of the teacher and diverse student to create inclusive learning environment

B: Basing classroom communication practices on the textual, aural, non-verbal, linguistic, spatial, and visual modes by the teacher

C: Concentrating on cognitive processes with emphasis on major modes of communication with and without technology to include diverse children

D: Drawing upon available visual, audio, and kinaesthetic modes of communication in the classroom

E: Evolving continuously multi-modal lesson studies and action research for enhancing inclusive teaching practice

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