Sign language to be made a recognised language in Sri Lanka

Sign language will be identified as a recognised language in Sri Lanka for the benefit of the large community in the country suffering from a loss of hearing.

The Cabinet has approved a proposal to draft a bill designating sign language as a formal means of communication in Sri Lanka, the Government said today.

The approval was granted in order to empower the community suffering from a loss of hearing by enabling sign language as a recognised form of communication.

This will facilitate access for educational needs, legal matters, health facilities, various government services, and private services.

The Cabinet approved a proposal submitted by Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to make the necessary provisions by an act of Parliament to make sign language a recognised language of Sri Lanka.

The Cabinet has further advised the Legal Draftsman to draft the relevant bill in this regard.

Over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – has disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss.

Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40 decibels (dB) in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30 dB in the better hearing ear in children. The majority of people with disabling hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries.

Approximately one third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss. The prevalence in this age group is greatest in South Asia, Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa. (Colombo Gazette)