Sign language: The key to inclusive human rights
A day of the Deaf, a day for the Deaf – 23rd September marks the celebration of International Sign Language – a day we at ConnectHear hold close to our hearts ever since we embarked on this journey. For the tens of thousands of Deaf that continue to not be able to call for help, or remain more vulnerable to threatening encounters and incidents than the hearing, or are victims of exclusion because they struggle to navigate the services due to the reluctance of the hearing majority to be inclusive, the consequences of the existing communication gap have been dramatically harsh. We realised the need for an effort to give the Deaf access to the same facilities and services that most of us continue to take for granted.
A first in the history of deaf people, the International Sign Language day marks the commemoration of approximately 466 million (World Health Organization, Deafness and Hearing loss) Deaf individuals from all corners of the world; a day that preserves their language, their cultural diversity and their identity. The full realization of the rights of the Deaf hinges at establishing communication between the hearing and Deaf individuals.
To value this day, we gathered at Lincoln Corner with Deaf and hearing individuals to reflect on the history, values and modern-day challenges of this community. In the name of raising sign language awareness, a positive interaction took place between the two where the hearing tried to comprehend what the Deaf told them while the latter simultaneously taught them sign language. The hearing individuals interacted with them by interpreting their facial expressions, body language and gestures. Each one of them took home the basics of sign language, its importance, its traditions, and most of all a feeling of serenity. The session was also streamed live on our Facebook page to make those who could not make it physically feel just as involved.
Throughout history, our mainstream culture has marginalised any group that they deem slightly different. The Deaf community is no exception to this norm. What exists is a dire need to alter hearing attitudes towards deafness and instituting a social communication between the two communities to further the cause of unity. By leading a social interaction between the two, the hearing gained an insight into Deaf Culture and a clearer understanding of the struggles that the Deaf face within this conventional society.
On the event being a significant achievement for the Deaf community, “this is a very important day for us. There are so many of us everywhere and the prospect of observing and celebrating this day around the globe with those who understand me overjoys me” said one of the attendees.
In the wake of this wholesome interaction on International Sign Language Day, we have achieved a significant milestone in our promise of inclusivity and mission of reshaping the Deaf world.
For this year, save the date but until then, you can be a part of the celebration here.