Sri Lanka to recognise sign language as an official language

The Sri Lankan cabinet has approved a Bill which will recognise sign language as an official language in the island nation.

PK Balachandran, Sri Lanka
Published : 14 Sept 2017, 05:48 PM
Updated : 14 Sept 2017, 05:48 PM

Until now, Sinhala, Tamil and English are recognised as official languages.

Following a proposal made by Minister of Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Heritage, SB Dissanayake, the Sri Lankan cabinet on Thursday gave the green light to recognise sign language for the benefit of the deaf population.

Official statistics estimate the population of deaf persons in the nation at 389,677.

The National Policy on Disabilities has accepted that sign language is more often the only language of communication for deaf persons.

If the bill is passed by parliament, Sri Lanka will be among 39 countries and autonomous regions in the world to have sign language as an official language.

However the status of sign language varies from country to country. In the US, sign language is recognised as a “foreign language”.

Lankan Minister Dissanayake had pointed out that official recognition of sign language will allow a deaf person access to education and have government services delivered to them without discrimination.