The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) estimates that there are around 72 million deaf people across the world, using over 300 different sign languages. The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities gives these languages equal status to spoken languages.
The UN International Day of Sign Languages on 23 September celebrates the linguistic identity and diversity of deaf people and sign language users across the world. The International Day of Sign Languages has been a part of the WFD’s International Week of the Deaf since 2018. The International Week of the Deaf was established in 1958 to celebrate deaf communities, including deaf people, their families, sign language interpreters and other stakeholders, such as human rights and disability organisations.
The theme for the 2020 International Day of Sign Languages is ‘Sign Languages are for Everyone!’. As part of the day, the WFD is launching a Global Leaders Challenge, asking government officials, members of parliament, regional councillors and other leaders to submit videos of themselves using their national sign language. The challenge will enable national associations of deaf people to work together with their political leaders to promote sign languages. Videos can be submitted to the WFD and will be released on its website and on social media on 23 September.
To find out more about the International Day of Sign Languages, visit the UN website or follow #IDSignLanguages on social media.