World celebrates International Day of Sign Languages

ABU DHABI, 23rd September, 2018 (WAM) — The world celebrates the first International Day of Sign Languages on 23rd September, which was launched by the United Nations to promote awareness about the importance of persons with hearing disabilities.

International Day of Sign Languages will be celebrated annually as part of the International Week of the Deaf, in a bid to recognise the objectives set out in article 21 of the UNCRPD to meet universal goal of inclusion. The choice of 23rd September commemorates the date that the World Federation of the Deaf was established in 1951. This day marks the birth of an advocacy organisation, which has as one of its main goals, the preservation of sign languages and deaf culture as pre-requisites to the realisation of the human rights of deaf people.

The UAE aims to integrate people of determination with various disabilities into the community and has adopted, through Cabinet Decision No. 38 for 2018, a sign language dictionary, which is the first sign language dictionary in the Emirati dialect, and is the primary reference for sign language for the hearing impaired in the UAE.


Organised by the Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs, ZHO, the dictionary will include 21 chapters, and around 5000 words, and will be used for teaching people with hearing impairments as well as training sign language translators across a range of topics.

The dictionary includes 21 chapters that address various topics, such as the sign language alphabet, sign numbers, official documentation, regions, tourism attractions, ministries, organisations and authorities, education, health, and the environment.

The dictionary is in line with UAE Vision 2021 and the National Agenda, which aim to maintain community cohesion by providing an overall environment that involves the entire community and strengthens social and family cohesion. The dictionary seeks to unify Emirati sign language, and assist in communication among the country’s deaf people.

The guide will facilitate the exchange of knowledge between the members of society and those with hearing disabilities and harmony among them, and promote the linguistic identity of the Deaf community in the country and increase their pride in their homeland and their own language, derived from the local dialect.

The project further aims to ensure the legal rights of the hearing impaired, while providing them with social aid on a monthly basis and employment opportunities in the public and private sectors. It also seeks to integrate students with disabilities into the education system, as well as secure their rights and raise social awareness.

The UAE guarantees equality for people of determination and has legally banned all forms of discrimination due to their particular needs.

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