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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2275

Sign Language, to be recognized as Official Language in Sri Lanka

Colombo, 14 September, (

Minister of Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Heritage, S.B. Dissanayake submitted a draft bill and the Cabinet approved to recognize sign language as an official language in Sri Lanka.

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.
Official statistics estimate the population of deaf persons to be 389,677. Furthermore, the National Policy on Disabilities has accepted that sign language more often than not is the only language of communication for deaf persons.

"In the meantime”, Minister Dissanayake said, “we have initiated a programme to train 50 persons in Sign Language at the School of Social Services. They would be given training in modern Sign Language. We will enroll another batch of 50 students soon. At the end of the training they could become the next batch of trainers.”

"There are around 400,000 persons in the country who use some form of sign language for communication. At the moment there are less than 10 persons who are proficient in Sign Language known all over the world. We want to teach that language and make the deaf and children with special needs proficient in it so that they could pursue their education. There is a university in the US which uses only Sign Language," the Minister said.

The National Policy on Disability for Sri Lanka acknowledges Sign Language as the language of communication for all individuals suffering from a severe loss of hearing or deafness.

The establishment of Sign Language legally will enable the deaf children of Sri Lanka to have the right to an equal education. The Minister stated that the government will take steps to ensure all deaf children will be provided the means to an equal education.

- Asian Tribune -

S.B. Dissanayake - Minister of Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Heritage
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