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2021 is the International Day of Sign Languages. What is Indian Sign Language, and how does it differ from other sign languages? Why Should You Learn It?

Sign language is a form of communication used by and for deaf people. Sign language uses visual cues such as hand gestures, signals, facial expressions, and body movement all around the world. There are more than 300 different sign languages, each with its own set of symbols.

Person'S Left Hand
Photo by Jo Hilton on Unsplash

Every year on September 23, the International Day of Sign Languages is honoured. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) set the date in 2017 during its 72nd session to commemorate the founding of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) on September 23, 1951. We’ll look at Indian sign language and explore why we should learn it in the sections below.

THE INDIAN SIGN LANGUAGE’S HISTORY

Indian Sign Language (ISL) has being taught since 2001 and has evolved over the last century. According to the BBC, over 700 Indian schools teach sign language. Although ISL has its own syntax and gestures, there are various regional variations.

In 2001, at the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities (AYJNISHD), Sibaji Panda, a deaf instructor, devised and launched the first-ever formal training course in ISL. Panda is a member of the Indian Sign Language Teacher’s Association (ISLTA) and the Indian Sign Language Interpreter’s Association (ISLIA) (ISLIA).

The Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment aided the Indira Gandhi National Open University in establishing the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) in 2011. (IGNOU). This centre, however, was closed and reopened in 2015 as a Society under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE).

WHY SHOULD YOU LEARN ISL?

Even among the deaf community in India, there is a general lack of awareness regarding sign languages. Many deaf parents have no idea how to communicate with their children who are deaf. Deaf persons are sometimes mocked or ignored by others who can hear them.

Learning ISL will help to overcome these gaps and raise awareness of the deaf population and culture. There are now less than 300 ISL certified interpreters available, and more are desperately needed. Visual dictionaries in ISL are also accessible to aid our language learning.

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    Written by Sapna Verma

    Linguist-translator by education. I have been working in the field of advertising journalism for over 10 years.

    For over 7 years in journalism. Half of them are as editor. My weakness is doing mini-investigations on new topics.

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