PLEA TO RECOGNISE INDIAN SIGN LANGUAGE IN THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

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People with hearing impairment constitute a considerable part of the population of our country. As per the 2011 census, there are approximately 1.3 million people with ‘hearing impairment’ in India. However, the National Association of the Deaf, estimates that 18 million people, i.e., roughly 1 percent of the Indian population are deaf. These people have a very difficult life on account of their disability and many of them do not get formal education due to the lack of facilities and social stigma.  Among those who are fortunate to be educated, many are forced to learn speech therapy, written communication and lip reading instead of sign language. The main reason behind this is the belief that sign language is a visible proof of the disability. But there is an increasing number of people from the deaf community as well as peoplep suffering from speech impairment who consider Indian Sign Language as their mother tongue!

Indian Sign Language is in itself scientific with a specific grammar, regardless of the variants of this sign language in different parts of India.  The lack of uniformity and inadequate development of this language has also led to the lack of awareness among the deaf population about this language and the institutions teaching it. Most of these problems can be tackled only if the Indian sign language is included in the eighth schedule of the Constitution of India as one of the official languages of the Republic of India. This will ensure the development and promotion of the language by the Central Government as it will be mandated to conduct research in the field of this language. Currently, there is only one Government Institution, i.e. the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre which has started research in the direction of promoting this sign language.  

In view of this, VVM’s Govind Ramnath Kare College of Law, Margao-Goa, which is in the forefront for providing legal aid, addressing the problems of vulnerable groups of society and proactive towards the cause of socio-legal issues and concerns through its various extension activities, has decided to take up an initiative to gather nation-wide support across India for this cause.  

Inclusion of the Indian Sign Language as an official language in the Constitution shall have several benefits – it will enable the candidates appearing for public service examination to use this language as the medium, it will open doors to more job opportunities to users of the sign language, and will provide ways for enforcement of the Rights of this vulnerable group and full participation in the public sphere, like for eg. Obtaining of driving licence.  In addition, official recognition of this sign language will also encourage many people from mainstream to learn it and work as interpreters to bridge the disconnect between the hearing impaired and the people from mainstream.

    Hence, the VVM’s Govind Ramnath Kare College of Law, Margao-Goa hereby recognises legal issues involved, including the upholding the Fundamental Right to Equality, contained in the Art. 14, the Freedom of expression provided in Art. 19(1)(a) and the full enjoyment of the Right to life  enshrined in Art. 21- all of the Constitution of India. The College thereby initiates a forceful plea through an on-line petition that the Indian Sign Language be included in the eight schedule of the Constitution of India, thereby considering it as one of the official languages in India.  In this endeavour, the College requests the support of one and all, in order that this plea is heard and this vulnerable section of society becomes one with the mainstream in public life