International Day of Sign Languages 2020: ‘Sign Languages Are for Everyone’

September 23, 2020 10:51 am


Today is the ‘International Day of Sign Languages’.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages in 2017.

South Sudan is joining the rest of the world today to celebrate the rights of Deaf South Sudanese citizens under the 2020 theme ‘Sign Languages Are for Everyone’!

Celebrating this day provides us with a unique opportunity to strengthen global solidarity in protecting and promoting the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all Deaf people and other sign language users.

Sign languages are recognised as fully fledged natural languages with equal in status to spoken languages by the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the Africa Union’s Disability Protocol.

June 2020 enrolment figures show a total of 2,143 Deaf and hard-of-hearing children enrolled in primary school, but only 42 Deaf and hard-of-hearing children enrolled in secondary school. Currently only Deaf people who stay in Juba are able to learn South Sudan Sign Language.  This means that the majority of Deaf South Sudanese are denied the opportunity to express themselves fully and to contribute to the economic development of South Sudan.

Although the South Sudanese Transitional Constitution recognises Sign Language under Article 6 by stating that: “The State shall promote the development of a sign language for the benefit of people with special needs”, there is still a long way to go to ensure that Deaf learners enjoy equal opportunities.

The South Sudan National Disability and Inclusion Policy advocates for the advancement of South Sudan Sign Language by, among others, providing sign language training for teachers and health workers, and ensuring that Deaf learners have equal access to education through sign language as a medium of teaching and learning.

Photo credit: Light for the World

GESS joins the South Sudan National Association of the Deaf (SSNAD) and the South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities in calling for more support to accelerate the development of South Sudan Sign Language.

We commit to promoting the language and education rights of Deaf girls and boys in the GESS programme! We therefore support the establishment of an inclusive education system in South Sudan which ensures that all learners with disabilities are able to enrol in schools closest to their homes and participate fully in learning and socialisation at the school.


To learn more about our commitment to disability inclusion, go here.

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