Amit Singh KushwahaGreeting someone by joining our hands, cricketers showing the victory symbol ‘V’ with their fingers after winning a match, a smiling face expressing a feeling of delight. There are several gestures or signs we are used to using in our everyday life. On some occasions, sign language is used as an alternative for verbal communication. Without speaking a word, we can express our feelings and emotions. We have also experienced a few people in our surroundings who are unable to speak deaf or hearing impaired, communicating in sign language which is specially devised for them.Sign languages are known as its unrivaled nature and separate from other languages, likewise English, Hindi, or any regional languages. The sign language is a system of communication using visual gestures and signs, as used by deaf people worldwide. Sign languages are expressed through manual articulations in combination with non-manual elements. Sign languages are full-fledged natural languages with their grammar and lexicon. Sign languages are not universally same and it is different in each region and community. This is not a translation or conversion of any language. Sign languages do not have a traditional or formal written form. Many deaf people do not feel the need to write their language. Children who are exposed to sign language from birth will acquire it, just as hearing children acquire their native spoken language.The 2011 Indian census cite roughly 1.3 million people with ‘hearing impairment’ Contrast that with numbers from India’s National Association of the Deaf, which estimates that 18 million people – roughly 1 per cent of the Indian population – are deaf. This is a large number who deserves to communicate by sign language purely. According to The Rights of Persons With Disability Act, 2016 ‘deaf’ means persons having 70 DB hearing loss in speech frequencies in both ears. The deaf people should obtain a disability certificate which is issued by the district medical board and get the facilities, but the barrier-free atmosphere is not accessible for them. Society is incapable of apprehending its significance in language. It is developing a big barrier between them. A few deaf people use Indian Sign Language (ISL) nevertheless it is not popular in the whole country. Different communities and organisations developed their sign languages and use them for teaching and communications. Our school education is purely based on verbal languages which is inconvenient for deaf children because they are incapable to speak and understand verbal languages. The National Education Policy ensures education for all special needs children and provides regulations for the barrier-free environment in schools. Some state governments are giving training in sign language to normal school teachers and after that, they can communicate and teach deaf children in schools. The ISL is not used in deaf schools to teach deaf kids. Instructor training programs do not orient educators towards teaching methods that use ISL. No teaching material incorporates sign language. Parents of deaf children are not aware of sign language and its ability to remove communication barriers.In India, some government organisations work for development and research on Indian Sign Language (ISL) and designed training programs for deaf people, trainers, and parents. The Rehabilitation Council of India (New Delhi), Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities (Mumbai), and Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) (New Delhi), organise different training and awareness programs on sign language to facilitate the deaf community in India. The ISLRTC had also launched the ISL dictionary for common people. The accessibility of digital devices and internet connectivity makes the deaf’s life smoother. They can communicate with mobile phones into video calling using sign languages. The mobile-based apps and YouTube tutorials are simply available for common people to learn sign language at home. The Indian mobile app ‘Sign Learn’ provides a unique opportunity to know sign language in a convenient manner.In 2017, the Union Education Ministry had launched National Anthem video in sign language, featuring disabled and partially disabled children. Directed by veteran filmmaker Govind Nihalani, the video features film star Amitabh Bachchan apart from the children who sing the National Anthem in sign language against the backdrop of the Red Fort.
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