International Day Of Sign Languages: History And Significance

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Nafez al-Damiri, a deaf and mute man who lost his right eye, speaks in sign language with his wife during a photo session in Jerusalem
Nafez al-Damiri, a deaf and mute man who lost his right eye, speaks in sign language with his wife during a photo session in Jerusalem AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND

The International Day of Sign Languages is observed annually on Sept. 23 with an aim to raise awareness about the importance of sign language "in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf," according to the United Nations.

The first International Day of Sign Languages was observed on Sept. 23, 2018. The date was chosen because it also marks the establishment of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in 1951.

There are over 70 million deaf people around the world and the day aims to support and protect the linguistic identity of everyone who uses sign languages to communicate.

"Deaf communities have been expanding and thriving throughout the years and giving us all strength, now is the time to celebrate their incredible endurance at the local, national and international level," WFD’s official website states.

The theme for this year’s celebration is "We Sign for Human Rights,"  which highlights "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,” United Nations’ official website states.

On this occasion, here are a few quotes about sign language. (Courtesy AZ Quotes)

  • "If you are to reach masses of people in this world, you must do it by a sign language. Whether your vehicle is commerce, literature, or politics, you can do nothing but raise signals, and make motions to the people." - John Jay Chapman.
  • "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.
  • "I come from a place where you don’t need to talk all the time. There are sign languages you learn." - Warwick Thornton.
  • "Sign language is the noblest gift God has given to deaf people." - George Veditz
  • "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




Photo: AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND

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