Recently, the International Day of Sign Languages was celebrated to create awareness about the importance of sign language and also the human rights of deaf people. “The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes and promotes the use of sign languages,” has been mentioned on the official website of the United Nations. It also regards sign language as equal status to spoken languages and supports the identity of the deaf community.
The theme of International Day of Sign Languages 2021 was We Sign For Human Rights. The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) outlines “how each of us – deaf and hearing people around the world – can work together hand in hand to promote the recognition of our right to use sign languages in all areas of life.”
Indian Sign Language (ISL) has been developed for a long time. Officially, the language was being taught since 2001. Indian Sign Language has been founded by Sibaji Panda who is a deaf teacher and launched the first-ever formal training program in Indian Sign Language at the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities (AYJNISHD), in 2001.
Indian Sign Language has its own grammar, gestures, and a way of communication that happens between deaf to deaf and, deaf to hearing people. There are certainly regional differences in the sign languages used all over India.
Sibaji Panda is serving as the founding member of the Indian Sign Language Teacher’s Association (ISLTA) and the Indian Sign language Interpreter’s Association (ISLIA). It is indeed a great initiative by him to make lives easier for deaf people all over the country to communicate their talent, express their opinions and be a contributor to the growth of society.
If you are interested to communicate with deaf people and know their thoughts/ideas, you can learn the basic signs from YouTube and take that first step for inclusion and accessibility.