On 23 September each year, the International Day of Sign Languages is marked around the world to raise awareness about the importance of sign language. It is a day to support and protect the linguistic identity of people who use sign language, especially those who are aurally challenged.
There are more than 70 million people around the world who are aurally challenged, according to data by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). The International Day of Sign Language does not concern only the deaf, but aims to care about the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of other sign language users as well. This special day also focuses on preserving sign languages across the world.
Sign languages use visual-manual modality to convey a message or information. According to the United Nations (UN), sign languages are full-fledged natural languages that are totally distinct from any spoken languages.
The WFD proposed the International Day of Sign Languages. On 19 December 2017, the resolution was adopted by consensus. The following year in 2018, the first International Day of Sign Languages was celebrated. Moreover, the date 23 September was selected because it marks the establishment of WFD in 1951. For the unversed, the WFD is a federation of 135 national associations of deaf people.
The theme of International Day of Sign Languages this year is "We Sign for Human Rights." The theme was declared by WFD to highlight "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."
The Day of Sign Languages aims to raise awareness about the importance of sign languages as a part of linguistic and cultural diversity.