The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi celebrated the International Day of Sign Languages, which falls on 23 September every year, highlighting its support for the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of people of determination, especially those with hearing loss, by underlining the importance of sign languages – their key communication tool. This day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in order to raise awareness on the importance of sign languages as part of the human rights of people with hearing loss and considering them to be natural languages with complete elements, regardless of their structural differences compared to spoken languages.
DCD celebrates this day as part of its commitment to promoting the inclusion and empowerment of people of determination by inviting partners and working with them to eliminate the physical, organizational, mental, and communication blocks that they face, such as the unavailability of sign language translation, which deprives people of determination of their rights, opportunities, and services. These efforts are implemented through six pillars defined by the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination, which is considered a comprehensive framework for the efforts and initiatives supporting people of determination, as well as a key development in their inclusion and empowerment, and a model showcasing the collaborative efforts of the government and private sectors.
The strategy targets people of determination of all age groups, and covers all main areas, which are health and rehabilitation; education; employment; social care and protection; universal access and participation in aspects of social life, sports, culture, entertainment, and tourism ; and enablers.
H.E. Dr. Layla Al-Hayas, Executive Director of the Community Development Sector at the DCD in Abu Dhabi, emphasized the importance of celebrating the International Day of Sign Languages, as it showcases deaf people of determination’s linguistic identity and its preservation as part of the linguistic and cultural diversity. In addition, the occasion highlights the importance of early access to sign language and providing services in sign language, such as education, to ensure the personal and professional development of such individuals and enable them reach their full potential. H.E. added that DCD is committed to working with people of determination and the organizations that represent them, including the organizations and societies for deaf people, reaffirming the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ in establishing the policies and systems to ensure adequate care.
She said: “DCD continues to draw inspiration from the visions and directives of the wise leadership, which is keen to provide ways to empower people of determination and enhance their participation in various sectors and identify their specific needs and effectively address them. DCD will continue to play its leading role in providing the people of determination with all the support needed to lead full lives and building an environment that ensures equal opportunities for them and protects their rights”.