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International Day Of Sign Languages 2022: Date, Theme, History, Significance, And Celebrations

Did you know that over 430 million people are in the stage of requiring rehabilitation for their hearing loss? (432 million adults and 34 million children). By 2050 this number will cross the 700 million range, which means every one in ten will have hearing related problems.

The knowledge that contemporary people have about sign language is limited to fingerspelling systems, known as manual alphabets which were in use before the 19th century. Through this, the words could be transferred from the spoken language to a sign language. Scroll through the article to know more about this day..

International Day Of Sign Languages 2022: Date And Theme

Since 23 September was the day of inception of WFD ( World Federation of the Deaf). In 1951, it was declared the international day for sign languages. Last year's theme (2021), declared by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) - 'We Sign For Human Rights' - projects "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."

International Day Of Sign Languages 2022: Benefits

Learning sign language has its own benefits. Eye-to-eye contact and physical contact strengthens emotional bonding between parents and children. When children learn their first few signs from their parents, it improves their confidence and sense of self-esteem. It improves their ability to perceive the environment visually and see it in a three dimensional view. Since sign language invariably teaches the child to communicate non verbally and to interpret body language in the process, deaf children instantly understand the non-verbal gestures in a correct manner.

These children respond quickly to stimuli and are good at looking out of the corner of their eye. A recent work of research indicates that young learners of sign language experience several long-term visual-spatial advantages than normal children and an enhanced visual cognition that lets them rely on visual stimuli and spatial schematics to learn and solve problems when compared to their normal peers.

International Day Of Sign Languages 2022: History And Significance

The first manual alphabet is thought to have been developed by Pedro Ponce de Leon, the Spanish Monk of the 16th century who discovered this language while observing his vow of silence, to communicate with fellow monks. They later taught this language to the deaf and this is how it originated. In 1620, Juan Pablo Bonet made a few modifications to the original sign language by adding a sign dictionary and alphabets. The first International Day For Sign Languages was celebrated during the international week of the Deaf, in the year 2018.

There are over 300 different languages for the deaf population in several regions across the globe. Of them, the most popular is the ASL (American Sign Language) and BSL (British Sign Language) used by the deaf and the hard of hearing in the United States. Russia holds the topmost position with maximum number of deaf people.

Hellen Keller, an American author and disability rights advocate, activist and lecturer was another person whose urge to speak was so strong that at the tender age of 7, she created a sign language to speak to her friend Marsha Washington with whom she communicated using 60 different signs.

ASL originated in American School for the Deaf (ASD) in West Hartford, Connecticut. ASL has been used extensively since them amongst schools for the deaf. International Day of Sign Language recognizes the role of sign language in academics and agrees that good standard of education in sign language is very crucial to the growth of the deaf individual. More than half a million people in US communicate in the sign language.

Different sign language can implement different regional accents to differentiate themselves and make it easy for them to use the signs. Sign language, which is rich in tradition and genuine in its usage and structure is also customized to regional preferences.

Most of all deaf people will also be mute due to an obvious reason. First of all, congenital hearing loss does not allow people to learn any spoken language whereas some people who sufffer from hearing loss or turn deaf, can speak very well with clarity.

International Day Of Sign Languages 2022: Celebrations

Usually rallies, seminars, some fun events, and various deaf awareness campaigns are organised on this day. But, one can also spread awareness on the deaf community in their own ways.

To make the society inclusive, one can start by greeting hearing impared people in their sign language, spread awareness by educating their friends in this regard and encourag ing them to donate, by hosting fundraising events, and sharing poignant messages and infographics on this subject on social media platforms. One can also offer to volunteer for a deaf organization, and educate themselves and others on the needs of the deaf community. Further, one can publish stories about deaf culture and inspire millions.

Image sources: Wikimedia Commons

Story first published: Thursday, June 23, 2022, 15:00 [IST]
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