Happy Belated International Day of Sign Language!!

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Last Sunday, September 23rd, the United Nations announced the first annual International Day of Sign Languages. This might be a crazy statistic to some, but there are roughly 72 million deaf people worldwide. Unfortunately, only 2% are able to receive an education in sign language. That’s where Nyle DiMarco comes in. Nyle DiMarco is a Deaf model and activist, and has been a winner on America’s Next Top Model as well as Dancing With The Stars. During his rise to fame, he had the chance to travel the world and visit Deaf communities from different countries. What he found was very different from his own experience.

Not only has sign language been historically shunned by hearing communities, but it wasn’t until recently that information was released showing that learning sign language along with oral languages is found to help with language acquisition. So it’s no surprise that globally, Deaf communities struggle with learning their language. Thankfully, organizations like the Nyle DiMarco Foundation and the World Bank’s Intergenerational Deaf Education Outreach Project are working to change that and introduce programs to teach Deaf children and their families sign language and prevent millions of people from growing up without a language.

With this newfound charge to teach Deaf children sign language, we need to work on making the world a more inclusive space for all people with disabilities. Yes, there is the American Disabilities Act, but it is a fight in itself for the people who need it to even get organizations to be compliant. So what really needs to happen is to introduce a more detailed lesson plan that includes people with disabilities in our public schools. This will then spark a new kind of perspective in able bodied people into the lives of those who are disabled, which will lead to more people actually giving a shit. Because a majority of the time, that’s what gets stuff done, and like it or not, we need privileged people to use that privilege to speak up and take action for those who would not even be able to get their foot in the door in the first place. Companies like Starbucks and Uber are aiming to get more involved in the Deaf community and make it easier for Deaf individuals to take advantage of their resources. If more companies, organizations, or even people attempt to educate themselves and make a difference, even if it’s just learning some basic signs, it would create ripples of change in the world around us.

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Chat with you next time,

@notlikeothergirls

3 thoughts on “Happy Belated International Day of Sign Language!!

  1. I love Nyle!! I totally agree that companies should try to be more inclusive by teaching employees sign language. I think it could also be taught as an option in schools as a language. I know if it were offered in my school I would’ve loved to take it! Thank you for this!

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  2. Wow! Prior to reading this post I did not know the statistics on how many people are deaf worldwide. Of course, I was expecting the number to be much lower then 72 million. I agree that with this many people being deaf, it would be beneficial for sign language to be more prominent in everyday life. I believe that teaching basic sign language to children at a young age would be useful and a great thing to have knowledge on. In my school experience I was not given the option to take sign language and I wish I had been! I live in New York and over the summer, I was working at a clothing store and a lady came in and started using sign language but was also speaking English to me so I could understand. She was taking a survey about deaf individuals and the use of sign language. She started by asking me if I knew anybody in my life that was deaf or if I have ever used sign language. I responded that I did not and then she explained that she was conducting a survey. Hopefully over time more people will become familiar with sign language.

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  3. I watched this season of ANTM and I loved Nyle! They even did an episode where the other cast mates had to only use the sign language they knew for one hour. It was extremeley hard for them, and then most of then felt really bad for the way they were treating Nyle. They realized how hard it was for him to communicate with 13 other people who weren’t deaf, and also how alone he may feel at times. I think this is also a really important access of sign language, because people who aren’t deaf, don’t truly realize how hard it can be, and how we can help them. But the most important thing, is that they love being deaf, and would not change anything about their life.

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