Make sign language ‘official’, hearing-impaired tell Centre

The launch of the second edition of the Indian sign language dictionary here saw the demand for making sign language “official” resurface, as representatives of the deaf and hearing-impaired sought the government’s intervention in the matter. Pointing that there was no immediate plan to do so, minister for social justice and empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot said that the matter was under “examination” as any such move must be backed by adequate interpreters and trainers to make it a widely used medium of communication.

At the release of the 6,000 word dictionary, National Association of Deaf, president A S Narayanan reiterated that the social justice ministry must work towards making sign language an official language. The demand has been raised by NAD repeatedly. The release of the second edition of Indian sign language dictionary is also seen as a step to expand the reach of the sign language and its functional use.

As per census 2011, there are 50, 71,007 deaf people and 19, 98,535 with speech disabilities in India. However, data shows that as of now there are just about 325 Indian sign language interpreters listed with the government’s Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC). This directory of ISL interpreters has been compiled from lists of various organisations. The directory has been put out on the ISLRTC website for those who need interpreters. Of the 325 interpreters, 263 are categorised as active interpreters, 47 as non-active interpreters and 15 as uncertified interpreters.

From this year, ISLRTC is starting a two year diploma in Teaching Indian Sign Language to step-up work on building human resource trained in sign language.

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