International Day of Sign Languages Date in the current year: September 23, 2018

International Day of Sign Languages International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) is a United Nations observance held annually on September 23, during International Week of the Death. It was established by a UN General Assembly resolution in 2017 and was celebrated for the first time in 2018.

The General Assembly declared September 23 as the International Day of Sign Languages in order to commemorate the foundation anniversary of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). Founded in 1951, the WFD is an international NGO that promotes the human rights of death people worldwide and acts as a peak body for national associations of deaf people.

The main goal of the International Day of Sign Languages is to raise public awareness of the importance of sign languages for the full realization of the human rights of the deaf. According to the WFD, there are more than 70 million death people in the world, using over 300 different sign languages for communication.

Contrary to common misconception, sign languages are independent of spoken languages. Each of them is a full-fledged natural language with its own grammar and lexicon. For example, British Sign Language and American Sign Language are not mutually intelligible, although both are used in English-speaking countries (in fact, American Sign Language is most closely related to French Sign Language).

Early access to sign languages and services in these languages, including quality education, is vital for deaf people. International Day of Sign Languages was established to emphasize this and improve the status of sign languages across the world.

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UN Observances

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International Day of Sign Languages, UN observances, international observances, World Federation of the Death