For information only - not an official document

23 September 2019

The Secretary-General

Message on the International Day of Sign Languages

23 September 2019

Sign languages are crucial means for an individual to express oneself, connect with others and participate in all aspects of economic, social, cultural and political spheres.  Their use is also critical to ensuring access to information and services, including during emergencies, and to realizing the human rights of the more than 70 million deaf people around the globe. Early introduction and quality inclusive education in sign language are essential for their full and effective participation, as guided by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

This International Day recognizes the importance of sign languages for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and fulfilling its core promise of leaving no one behind.  It also offers an opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all sign language users.

With the adoption of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy earlier this year, the United Nations has established a foundation for sustainable and transformative change on disability inclusion. We will lead by example. 

On this International Day of Sign Languages, let us reaffirm our commitment to advancing the rights of deaf people everywhere.

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