International Sign Language Day: “Sign Languages Unite Us”

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Kenyan sign language (KSL) will soon be compulsory for all government institutions and parastatals, to provide for the use of sign language in all public places.

This follows the Kenyan Sign Language Bill of 2021 which was passed by the Senate and now awaiting approval by the National Assembly.

If the bill is approved, then KSL will be Kenya’s third official language after Kiswahili and English.

The Bill defines Kenyan sign language meaning it is predominantly used in Kenya by the Deaf community.

Therefore, to support the development and preservation of Sign Language, the International Day of Sign Language is celebrated annually on 23 September.

This special and unique day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the realization of the human rights of Deaf persons and provides an opportunity for the world to protect and support the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of the Deaf community.

The proposal to observe this day came from the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) which includes 135 national associations of the Deaf people.

This year marks the fourth celebration of the international day of sign language, it was first celebrated in 2018 as part of Deaf awareness week.

This year’s International Day of Sign Languages theme is “Sign Languages Unite Us.”

Sign Language is simply the use of visual means of communication through hand signals, gestures, facial expressions, and body language.

Each country has its own sign language i.e. Kenyan sign language (KSL), American Sign Language (ASL), and British sign language (BSL).

This day gives a stage for the development of sign language. It also focuses on the internationally agreed development goals and the achievements associated with them.

In recognition of the Deaf community, Signs Media Kenya Limited was formed in 2011 by Managing Director Luke Muleka with an objective of educating, informing and entertaining through sign language. 

Currently Signs Media advocates for the Deaf people like never before by ensuring that they have greater access to news and information and also for the Deaf Persons to have interpreters whenever they need them by use of the assist ALL app.

“Sign language is just a noble gift God has given to Deaf people.”

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