The Global Rights Watch (GRW) calls on governments around the world to ensure that the human rights of people who are deaf or hard of hearing are respected and support their equal inclusion in society.
The organisation stressed that sign language is not simply a means of communication; it’s crucial for securing basic rights and it’s a part of belonging to a community.
The organisation further clarified that sign language allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to enjoy rights just like anyone else, they are able to learn, work, and socialize.
Sign language uses hand positions and movement to communicate and has existed for centuries, GRW said, pointing out there are 71 countries that recognize sign language as part of their legal framework and about 300 sign languages in the world.
With so much of our lives online, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, people who are deaf or experience hearing loss may feel alienated from day-to-day activities, such as going to work or communicating with friends and family. They can struggle to access virtual health care and reliable information about Covid-19.
But this isolation and other barriers to basic rights is not something that’s emerged only since the pandemic.
GRW concluded by stressing that people who are deaf or hard of hearing are often excluded from their communities, denied equal access to basic services and face stigma and violence. Students who are deaf are uprooted from families and communities because their school doesn’t offer instruction in sign language.