‘Sign Language Day’ with the theme ‘Sign Languages Unite Us’ was celebrated under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), an autonomous body under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, M/o Social Justice and Empowerment on 23rd September 2022 at C.D. Deshmukh Auditorium, India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi.
Ever since the United Nations declared 23rd September as the International Day of Sign Languages, the ISLRTC celebrates it every year on 23rd September. This year National Implementation Committee (NIC) chaired by Home Minister inter-alia approved the event – “Sign Language Day” on 23rd Sep, 2022 to be conducted and celebrated by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment” (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities), under “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” celebration.
As per the plan of action, approximately 3,200 organizations/ institutions were roped in for celebrating Sign Language Day-2022 under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. The objective of the Sign Language Day celebration was to sensitize the general public about the importance of Indian Sign Language in the lives of persons with hearing disabilities.
Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Km. Pratima Bhoumik was the Chief Guest. Sh. Rajesh Aggrawal, Secretary, DEPwD, and Sh. Rajesh Yadav, Joint Secretary, DEPwD & Director, ISLRTC, and Sh. A.S. Narayanan, President, National Association of Deaf also graced the occasion.
Via a video message, The President of India said that she feels proud and happy that entire world is adopting the principle of Indian culture i.e. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (All world is a family) and it be seen through the celebration of Sign language day throughout the world.
Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Km. Pratima Bhoumik mentioned that Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) are an integral part of our society and to provide them full accessibility is the utmost priority of the Government. Continuous efforts are being made to ensure the empowerment and mainstreaming of PwDs to make an inclusive society. She said that Sign language also plays an important role in the education of deaf people because it is easier for deaf people to get education and higher education through sign language. This day brings all the deaf people together socially across the country. Through sign language, our deaf brothers and sisters are getting inspiration and direction to move ahead in their lives. This year Sign Language Day celebration is being celebrated under the Amrit Mahotsav of Azadi, which will certainly lead to a positive success in increasing public awareness about the importance of sign language.
Addressing on the occasion, Sh. Rajesh Aggrawal, Secretary DEPwD highlighted the social significance of sign language as it integrates the deaf community socially as well as culturally. He praised the efforts of ISLRTC for doing commendable service to the people with hearing disability. Secretary, DEPwD, Shri.Rajesh Aggrawal mentioned that all the possible efforts will be made that every district to have an Indian Sign Language interpreter to facilitate accessible communication for Deaf persons.
Sh. Rajesh Yadav, Joint Secretary, DEPwD and Director, ISLRTC welcomed all the dignitaries and participants. He also presented a brief account of the remarkable works and achievements of ISLRTC in a short span of time from its establishment in 2015.
In his address, Shri A.S. Narayanan, President of the National Association of the Deaf thanked Prime Minister, Minister of State, SJ&E, DEPwD and ISLRTC for constantly promoting Indian Sign Language and Education of the Deaf to include them in the mainstream of the society. He informed that he has requested the Government for including Indian Sign Language (ISL) in the forthcoming Census.
During the programme, several important resource materials were launched:-
An ISL Dictionary app called Sign Learn was launched which is available in both Android and iOS versions.
ISLRTC had signed an MoU with National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) on 06th October, 2020 for converting NCERT textbooks from Class I to XII into Indian Sign Language (digital format) to make the textbooks accessible to children with hearing disabilities. This year ISL e-content of NCERT textbooks of class VI was launched.
Under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Centre launched ISL version of selected books of National Book Trust’s Veergatha series.
With the joint effort of ISLRTC and NCERT, a total of 500 academic words in Indian Sign Language were launched. These 500 academic words are words used at the secondary level, which are often used in history, science, political science, mathematics.
The Centre conducted 5th Indian Sign Language Competition, 2022, a national-level competition held for Deaf students and interpreters to showcase their ISL skills, creativity and knowledge. For the Competition, entries were invited on jokes, stories and essays in Indian Sign Language. During the Sign Language Day programme, all the winners of the 5th ISL competition were distributed trophy and certificate by Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Km. Pratima Bhoumik.
In the above event, vice chancellor MDU, Rohtak, Joint Director (NCERT) and other dignitaries from the field were also present.
The programme also included cultural performances like songs and mime in ISL by the interpreter trainees and Deaf teacher trainees.