International Day for Sign Language (IDSL)

Kenyan Sign Language (English: KSL, Swahili: LAK) is a sign language used by the deaf community in Kenya and Somalia. It is used by over half of Kenya’s estimated 600,000 deaf population.

According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are approximately 72 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries. 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 socializing. It is considered a pidgin form of sign language that is not as complex as natural sign languages and has a limited lexicon.

The 1st International Day of Sign Language (IDSL) was celebrated in 2018 under the theme “With Sign Language, Everyone is Included”

The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 23rd of September as the International Day of Sign Language in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf.

In 1958, the first launched International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf) in Rome, Italy. IWDeaf is celebrated annually by the global Deaf Community on the last full week of September to commemorate the same month the first World Congress of the WFD was held. IWDeaf is celebrated through various activities by respective Deaf Communities worldwide.

These activities call for participation and involvement of various stakeholders including families, peers, governmental bodies, professional sign language interpreters, and DPOs.

This year’s theme is: Sign Language Rights for All! Each day of the week has a sub-theme, these include;

Monday, 23 September – Sign Language Rights for All!

Tuesday, 24 September – Sign Language Rights for All Children

Wednesday, 25 September – Sign Language Rights for Deaf Senior Citizens

Thursday, 26 September – Sign Language Rights for DeafBlind People and Deaf People with Disabilities.

Friday, 27 September – Sign Language Rights for Deaf Women

Saturday, 28 September – Sign Language Rights for Deaf LGBTIQA+

Sunday, 29 September – Sign Language Rights for Deaf Refugees

Young children need to learn sign language it would be great if it could be taught in schools as part of the syllabus. It’s never too late to learn a language. And what better day to take up a new tongue than the International Day of Sign Languages?


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