The International Day of Sign Languages is a significant day to celebrate and promote the linguistic and cultural diversity of deaf people and other sign language users. Sign languages are natural languages that have their own grammar, syntax, and lexicon, and they are not derived from spoken languages. Sign languages enable deaf people to communicate with each other and with hearing people, as well as to access education, information, and services. Sign languages also reflect the identity, history, and values of deaf communities around the world.
The International Day of Sign Languages was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017, following the proposal of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), a global organization that represents 70 million deaf people and 135 national associations of the deaf. The date of September 23 was chosen to commemorate the founding of the WFD in 1951. The aim of the day is to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of deaf people, as recognized by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The day also highlights the need to preserve sign languages as part of linguistic and cultural diversity and to support the learning and use of sign languages by deaf and hearing people alike.
Each year, the International Day of Sign Languages has a different theme that reflects the current issues and challenges faced by deaf people and sign language users. The day is celebrated by various events and activities organized by deaf communities, governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders. The day also coincides with the International Week of the Deaf, which is held annually during the last full week of September since 1958. The week is a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of the issues and achievements of deaf people worldwide.
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