According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are approximately 72 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in the global south. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.
Sign languages are fully fledged natural languages, structurally distinct from the spoken languages. There is also an international sign language, which is used by deaf people in international meetings and informally when travelling and socialising.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises and promotes the use of sign languages. It makes clear that sign languages are equal in status to spoken languages and obligates states parties to facilitate the learning of sign language and promote the linguistic identity of the deaf community.
The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf.
(Source: United Nations)
During the current global pandemic, SERVE’s partner -the Association of People with Disabilities (APD) created awareness raising videos, using sign language to share preventative messaging for the deaf community. APD worked throughout the lockdown to ensure that those who were living with disabilities could access the help, support and information that they needed.