‘Evolve sign language that suits culture’

Governor P. Sathasivam has stressed on the need to encourage research to standardise the Indian sign language system in a manner that suits the linguistic and cultural diversity of the country.

He was speaking while inaugurating the observance of the International Week of the Deaf and the International Day of Sign Languages at the National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) on Monday.

The Governor said the sign language must ideally be offered by universities, at least as an add-on course, rather than confining them to institutions like NISH. The goal of full inclusion through sign language, the motto of the year’s Deaf Week observance, could be achieved only by popularising the language.

Higher in India

He said the prevalence of both hearing loss and communication disorders in India was higher than in developed countries including New Zealand, UK, and the United States. There were over 63 million people who suffered from auditory loss in India. The scenario necessitated attention and efforts towards handling such disabilities, he said.

Mr. Sathasivam added that auditory issues posed a major threat to the children’s ability to develop speech and language. “Though hearing problems are known to be the second-most common disability in the country, the burden of deafness is largely preventable, thanks to the efforts of institutions like NISH which offer early intervention, academics, and clinical services. Through early identification and timely intervention, NISH has been helping hearing-impaired children acquire speech and language, thereby facilitating their education and advancement,” he said, lauding the institution for its project to create Indian sign language versions of Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajans.

The Governor also expressed optimism that the youth who suffered from communication disorders were provided more avenues for employment. The Information Technology policy of the State envisaged empowerment of the differently abled youth through employment opportunities, he said.

Social Justice Special Secretary Biju Prabhakar, NISH Executive director-in-charge K.G. Satheesh Kumar, academic coordinator Daisy Sebastian, and faculty member Sandeep Krishnan were among those who participated in the function.

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