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Standardizing sign language

Sunday - November 25, 2018 6:13 pm , Category : WTN SPECIAL

WTN: There are anywhere between 2 and 15 million deaf and dumb people in the country, even as there is underreporting and no exhaustive database in the census that necessarily includes all those with hearing and/or vocal incompetence/loss.

Even beyond the aforementioned figures there are millions who have partial hearing and speaking handicaps who are not even counted officially as deaf and dumb though they face almost equal level of social inconvenience in communicating and interacting Due to this deficiency of figures the accurate depth of the problem cannot be fathomed. This is the reason why we are gravely short of sign language trainers and interpreters. There are very few schools for the deaf and dumb against the need.

The worst of it all is there is not even a standardized lexicon of signs which are uniformly accepted and understood across the country. This creates further impediments for the deaf and dumb to communicate with people from other language communities or states, which all have their own variations in the language. To solve this major problem the Indian Sign Language Interpreters’ Association is coming up with a dictionary of sign words. The first such dictionary was published in March 2018, which included 3,000 words and  now the second edition to be published in March 2019, will have 3,000 more words of daily use. These 6,000 words will now be available on the Association website as well. The first 3,000 words were already uploaded on the website in a bid to ensuring a uniform use of sign language across the country so that people from one part do not have any problem in communicating with people from another part of the country.

According to the association, experts from specialised fields of engineering, technology, law and medicine have been roped in to prepare the dictionary so that as many as technical and daily use words as possible could be added to it. The purpose is to enhance the ease of communication of the deaf and dumb making it more specific and giving it a broader coverage of the various aspects of life.

Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre, which is the pivotal body behind the project also aims at making sign language more popular and accessible so that any normal person can also learn the language and communicate fluently with any deaf and dumb relative, friend or colleague around. In addition to the above effort, the site will also contain the names of 350 sign language experts available in various parts of the country so that those who want to learn sign language can locate the expert nearest to their respective location. To deliberate on these developments, the Association is also holding a 3-day international symposium in Indore which is being attended by several foreign experts including, World Sign Language Interpreters’ Association chief Leeze Gibson of Scotland.

The convention being organised in Madhya Pradesh will definitely raise awareness in the people of the state and unite the deaf and dumb in the region with the association.-Window To News