International Day of Sign Languages



Man and woman using sign language

Happy International Day of Sign Languages!

Each year, this day is celebrated on 23rd September as part of International Week of the Deaf. It celebrates the cultural diversity of sign languages used around the world, whilst increasing awareness of the issues *deaf people encounter.

Sign Languages Are for Everyone!

The theme for 2020 is ‘Sign Languages are for Everyone’.  The theme recognises that *deaf people have the same rights and access to information as hearing people.

As part of this, the World Federation of the Deaf launched the Global Leader’s Challenge – challenging leaders from around the world to get involved and sign the theme in their national sign language. It’s an opportunity for leaders to engage with the deaf community and promote the use of sign language in government.

This years’ International Day of Sign Languages 2020 theme highlights the need for a BSL interpreter at all Government briefings here in the UK.


The #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign was started by Lynn Stewart-Taylor after the UK Government failed to have a BSL interpreter in the room during any of their televised national briefings during the Coronavirus crisis. The campaign asks the Prime Minister to ensure *deaf people have equal access to information around the Coronavirus by including a BSL interpreter at each briefing.

With new Coronavirus restrictions announced yesterday, the UK and devolved governments have taken a very different approach to inclusivity for *deaf people in their national briefings. We were delighted to see that the Scottish Government briefing included a BSL interpreter in the same room as Nicola Sturgeon. However we were disappointed that once again, the Westminster briefing did not.

Although interpreters are available on the BBC for some UK Government briefings, they can often be cut out when being replayed, or affected by technical errors.

There are over 150,000 BSL users living in the UK. How are *deaf people expected to follow updates from the UK Government if there’s no interpreter provided for national statements?

At Deaf Action, our mission is to improve the quality and conditions of life for *deaf people, and we want the UK Government to do the same.

Want to learn more?

If you’re interested in finding out more about deafness or you want to learn BSL, sign up to one of our courses here.