International Day of Sign Languages 2023

Sign Language Day 2023

The International Day of Sign Languages is observed each year on September 23. This day provides a special occasion to advocate for the preservation and promotion of the linguistic identity and cultural richness of all deaf individuals and those who use sign languages. During the 2023 celebration of Sign Language Day, the focus will be on emphasizing the unity that sign languages bring.

Deaf communities, governments, and civil society organizations around the world will continue to work together to promote and recognize national sign languages as integral components of their countries’ diverse linguistic landscapes. This day serves as a reminder of the importance of sign languages in facilitating communication, fostering inclusivity, and preserving the unique cultural heritage of deaf communities.

International Day of Sign Languages 2023 Theme

The theme for the International Day of Sign Languages 2023 is “A World Where Deaf People Everywhere Can Sign Anywhere”! This theme highlights the importance of making sign languages visible and accessible everywhere in the world.

  • Sign languages are natural languages, used by deaf people to communicate.
  • There are over 300 different sign languages used around the world.
  • Each sign language has its own unique grammar and syntax.
  • Sign languages are just as important as spoken languages.
  • They should be respected and valued.
  • Deaf people have the right to use their sign language in all aspects of their lives, including education, employment, and healthcare.

Sign Language Unites Us

The World Federation of the Deaf reports that there are over 70 million deaf individuals globally, with more than 80% residing in developing countries. These deaf communities use over 300 distinct sign languages.

  • Sign languages are complete and natural languages with unique structures that set them apart from spoken languages.
  • In addition to national sign languages, there exists an international sign language.
  • It is utilized by deaf individuals in international gatherings and informal interactions while traveling or socializing.
  • It is considered a simplified form of sign language, lacking the complexity of natural sign languages and featuring a limited vocabulary.
  • The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes and advocates for the use of sign languages.
  • It explicitly acknowledges the equality in status between sign languages and spoken languages.
  • It also mandates that state parties facilitate the learning of sign language and promote the linguistic identity of the Deaf community.
  • This recognition is essential in upholding the rights and inclusion of the Deaf community worldwide.

History of International Day of Sign Languages

The proposal for the International Day of Sign Languages originated from the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). It is an organization that represents the human rights of approximately 70 million deaf individuals worldwide. The resolution A/RES/72/161 was introduced by the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations. It gained the support of 97 United Nations Member States. It was adopted by consensus on December 19, 2017.

  • The selection of September 23rd as the date for this observance commemorates the founding of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in 1951.
  • This day marks the establishment of an advocacy organization dedicated to preserving sign languages and Deaf culture, which are fundamental prerequisites for the realization of the human rights of deaf individuals.
  • The International Day of Sign Languages was first celebrated in 2018 as part of the broader International Week of the Deaf.
  • The International Week of the Deaf originated in September 1958.
  • It has since evolved into a global movement that promotes unity among deaf communities.
  • It advocates for awareness of the challenges faced by deaf individuals in their daily lives.

Significance of International Day of Sign Languages

The United Nations General Assembly has officially designated September 23rd as the International Day of Sign Languages. This commemorative day aims at increasing awareness of the crucial role sign language plays in ensuring the full realization of the human rights of individuals who are deaf.

This resolution underscores the significance of early access to sign language and related services. Such access is deemed essential for the personal growth and development of deaf individuals. It is instrumental in achieving internationally agreed-upon development goals. The resolution also emphasizes the importance of preserving sign languages as integral components of linguistic and cultural diversity. It highlights the principle of “nothing about us without us”. It emphasizes the necessity of actively involving Deaf communities in decision-making processes and initiatives that concern them.


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