The proposal for International Day of Sign Language is the initiative of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). After a long advocacy work carried out by WFD, the United Nations formally ratified September 23 as now International Sign Language Day. One of the main objectives is to preserve the linguistic identity of the Deaf and the Deaf culture.
The first International Day of Sign Language was celebrated on September 23, 2018 around the world on the theme: “With sign language, everyone is included”. According to WFD, around 72 million persons worldwide are deaf and over 80% live in developing countries. The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes and supports the use of sign language. It clearly indicates that sign languages enjoy the same status as spoken languages and encourages the stakeholders to facilitate the learning of sign language and to promote the linguistic identity of the Deaf community.
It is in this sense that, thanks to the support from the WCARS project, the National Association of the Deaf of Ivory Coast (ANASOCI) held a conference on advocacy for the recognition of sign language on 28th December 2020. It was in the presence of representatives of the Ministry of National Education, Technical Education and Vocational Training, the Secretariat in charge of Human Rights, the Ministry of Employment and Social Protection and organizations working in the field of disability.
For the president of ANASOCI, Mr. Ouattara Yegueleworo, the activity was aimed at ensuring the full participation of deaf people in all fields and the realization of their human rights through sign language. Since 2019, the leaders of the deaf community have asked themselves the following question: “How do we get to have a decree or a law that officially recognizes our sign language? “
Their recommendation is that the official recognition of sign language finds a favorable response from the decision-makers in Côte-d’Ivoire. This, they strongly believe once their expectations are met, lives of deaf persons in the country will progress immensely.