National status for sign language sought

At least 3,000 deaf people gathered at Jantar Mantar on Monday to demand for recognition of the Indian sign language as a national language on World Disability Day, observed on Monday.

The association has been trying to get in touch with the Union home minister to discuss the issue for the last one-and-a-half month, but there has been no response from his office.

“We have sent two letters to the home minister on October 19 and November 26, but they have not been answered yet. Once the Indian sign language is given an official status, the deaf will become confident to become a part of the mainstream,” said A S Narayanan, secretary of the National Association of the Deaf.

He said that though the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre was established in 2011, the functioning of the institute is not growing at a good pace. “There are only eight private schools and one government school in Delhi for the deaf and mute.

There are no government colleges for us, and only one private college run by Indira Gandhi National Open University in association with the University of Central Lancashire,” he said.

For 18 million deaf people in the country, there are only 250 trained sign language interpreters. There are no sign language interpreters in schools, hospitals, police stations, airports and railway stations.

“Deaf students hardly ever make it beyond high school because there are no sign language interpreters in our schools and colleges. Also, in the 11th Five Year Plan, it was mentioned that new schools and colleges will be opened for the deaf, but it has been carried forward to the 12th Plan,” added Narayanan.

The protestors have decided to agitate till they get an appointment with the home minister.

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