Deaf Awareness March ‘Sign Bilingualism is a Human Right’

Location: Jantar Mantar to India Gate, New Delhi    Projects: Awareness Activities: Dharna


Deaf Awareness March ‘Sign Bilingualism is a Human Right’

National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is truly a representative organisation of deaf people in India. This includes a strong 4,500 membership across the country. It was formed in December, 2005.

The deaf movement in India is currently in a very nascent state. NAD advocates for the rights of the deaf and liaises with the Government and policy makers.  We are currently hosting State Level Meetings across India to spread awareness among the deaf people on their rights and to also recruit more members.

On the occasion of 55th International Week of the Deaf, National Association of the Deaf organised a ‘Deaf Awareness March’ on ‘Sign Bilingualism is a Human Right’ on 27th September, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. from Jantar Mantar to India Gate through Tolstoy Marg and Kasturba Gandhi Marg. Over 650 deaf persons from Delhi and NCR participated in this march.

We celebrate International Week of the Deaf in the month of September every year through various events. The World Federation of the Deaf announced the International Week of the Deaf to be celebrated from 24 to 30 September 2012. Deaf Associations throughout the world organize events, marches, campaigns and meetings to highlight current topics that they wish to be addressed by local or national authorities. Their aim is to attract the attention of decision makers, general public, and media to the problems and concerns deaf persons face and make them understand that deaf people have human rights too! So the International Week of the Deaf is all about getting together, feeling united and powerful and showing that unity to the rest of the world. This week also increases solidarity among deaf people and their supporters and is used as a way to stimulate greater efforts to promote the rights of deaf people.

This march was covered by Hindustan Times, UNI, Indian Express and even some Mass Communications college students. The march came to a halt at India Gate where everyone gathered around and Mr. Zorin Singha, President of NAD, Mr. A.S. Narayanan, Secretary of NAD, Mr. Anuj Jain, Joint Secretary of NAD and Mr. Vishal Arora, Treasurer of NAD talked on the importance of International Day of the Deaf. Because we have an invisible disability, it becomes all the more reason as to why we need to create awareness and make ourselves visible in the eyes of the society. And, an important need to recognize sign language as an official language of India. Sign language is our mode of communication.

We have over 17 million deaf people in our country. The quality of education that is provided in deaf schools is poor because the society has a hard time understanding the culture and linguistic needs of the Deaf community. Our teachers need to be equipped and trained in Sign Language before teaching a class of deaf children. Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre should train the teachers in Sign Language and Deaf culture so that education can be imparted in the best way possible.

Sign bilingualism is based on the idea that, as deaf children can potentially easily acquire sign language and may have difficulty in accessing spoken language, they should be given the opportunity to develop sign language. This gives them a foundation of having a full command of one language. This foundation helps learn another language better. Within different educational settings the relative use of the two languages (sign and spoken/written language) may differ, but an essential feature is that the each language is recognized as distinct and used differently. While working towards the same goals as spoken language based approaches, sign bilingualism recognizes the need for a different classroom practice, using different means to achieve the same ends. It also recognizes the Deaf community, that group of Deaf people who see themselves as a linguistic and cultural minority group rather than a disabled group. A sign bilingual approach encourages the involvement of deaf as well as hearing people, and recognition of the culture of Deaf people (Gregory 1993 and 2005).







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