September 23: International Day of Sign Languages observed

The International Day of Sign Languages is observed all across the world on 23 September every year as part of the International Week of the Deaf, which takes place from 24-30 September every year.

About International Day of Sign Languages

The United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) has proclaimed 23 September as International Day of Sign Languages.

Objective: To raise awareness of importance of sign language in full realization of human rights of people who are deaf.

The resolution establishing IDSL acknowledges importance of preserving sign languages as part of linguistic and cultural diversity as well emphasizes the ‘nothing about us without us’ principle, in terms of working with deaf communities.

IDSL 2019 Theme: ‘Sign Language Rights for All!


The proposal for establishing IDSL came from World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). WFD is a federation of 135 national associations of deaf people that represents about 70 million deaf people’s human rights worldwide. The resolution A/RES/72/161 was sponsored by Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to UN and co-sponsored by 97 UN Member States. It was adopted by consensus on 19 December 2017. The first IDSL was celebrated on 23 September 2018 as part of International Week of the Deaf (on 24-30 September).

Why 23 September? It was chosen to commemorate the date that WFD, an advocacy organisation was established in 1951. This day marks birth of WFD which has as one of its main goals as preservation of sign languages and deaf culture as pre-requisites to realisation of human rights of deaf people.

What are Sign languages?

These are fully fledged natural languages that are structurally distinct from spoken languages. Since natural sign languages are complex as well as has a limited lexicon, there is also an international sign language, which is used by deaf people in international meetings and informally when travelling and socializing.




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