International Week of the Deaf: September 21, 2020
Today’s theme: Sign Lanugages
[Video description: Michelle, a white female, is wearing a v-neck black shirt and a pair of dark eyeglasses. Behind her is a sage green background with a gold framed picture between a pair of mirrors.]
National sign languages are the natural languages of deaf people. With more than 200 different sign languages used around the globe, national sign languages are the native languages of more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. They are also the native languages of children from deaf-parented families and are also used by millions of others around the world who are part of vibrant national sign language communities. National sign languages are fully-fledged languages with the same linguistic properties as spoken languages. National sign languages connect deaf people to Deaf Communities. Through the use of national sign languages, deaf people share a common culture and identity.
For this International Week of the Deaf, let’s highlight the richness of sign languages and their equal status with spoken languages. The promotion of national sign languages and deaf culture strengthens multilingualism and is a means of encouraging, protecting and preserving the diversity of languages and cultures globally. Deaf Communities are diverse and intersectional, with deaf people are found among all cultural, linguistic, and ethnic minorities.
At the same time, let’s recognize the discrimination still faced by deaf people around the world regarding their access to and use of their preferred languages, their national sign languages. And deaf people from traditionally marginalized populations face intersectional obstacles to their use of sign languages. Let’s work together to ensure the right to use sign languages is extended to all peoples around the world.
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