I am privileged to cover a news item from Times of India dated 24th September 2021 on release of latest digital Indian Sign language dictionary by our respected Prime Minister earlier this month. This throws more light on the far reach of the economy which has not done much to explain in sign language its availability of men, materials, and resources by deaf people who used to feel neglected.

Let us learn more about this welcome- development.

Interspersing Questions & Answers with detailed explanations, we shall widen our horizon.

Yes, substantial population of deaf needs introduction to the latest opportunities available to them through means easily identifiable by them.

Widening human resources: Indian sign language updates

Let me invite your attention to the web site of INDIAN SIGN LANGUAGE RESEARCH AND TRAINING CENTRE (An Autonomous body under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, New Delhi as under:


Can one explain Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC)?

Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) is an Autonomous organization established under Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860, (Registration Number S/1440/2016) under the aegis of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, New Delhi. It was established on 28 September 2015.

The latest summary of the major activities of ISLRTC during the year 2018-19 are given below: (reference contains this booklet of 53 pages)

  • ISLRTC launched the 2 Edition of Indian Sign Language Dictionary on 27th February 2019. After the 2nd edition, the ISL dictionary contains 6000 terms from every day, academic, legal, technical, and medical fields.
  • Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) inaugurated the 3rd Edition of Indian Sign Language Dictionary with 10,000 terms on 17th February 2021 in an online program
  • The institute had enrolled 45 candidates in the 2018-19 session for the Diploma in Indian Sign Language Interpretation (DISLI) course to meet the demands of ISL Interpreters in the country.
  • ISLRTC got approval of running a two-year diploma course namely Diploma in Teaching Indian Sign Language (DTISL) from the academic session 2019-20 onwards with an intake capacity of 20 candidates.
  • The Convocation program was organized on 28 September 2018 on the 3 Foundation day of ISLRTC. In the convocation program, certificates were distributed to the first group of 34 DISLI students of academic session 2016-17.
  • ISLRTC provided interpreting services to 71 organizations/institutions/ associations/departments in Delhi NCR region.
  • A list of total 325 interpreters from various places in the country is compiled and uploaded on ISLRTC website.
  • Deafness: Empowerment and Awareness for Families – National Program (DEAF-NP) is an ambitious initiative which aims to provide awareness, education and empowerment about deafness and its implications. The duration of the DEAF-NPpilot nd rd project was from 2 March 2018 to 3 November 2018.
  • Under the pilot project, 30 hours of face-to-face training was conducted for parents/family members at three locations viz. Tumkuru (Karnataka), Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Gurugram (Haryana).
  • Six-day training of master trainers under DEAF-NP pilot project was organized from 14th – 21st May 2018 by the ISLRTC.

Do we know?

As per the 2011 Census, there are 50,71,007 persons with hearing disability and 19,98,535 persons with speech disability in India out of the 26,810,557 persons with disability (Census 2011). The needs of the deaf community for Indian Sign Language and related matters have long been ignored and the problems have been documented by various organizations working for the deaf.

Further, Sign Languages are visual-gestural manual languages that use movements of the hands, facial expressions, and head/body positions to convey linguistic messages.

Most of us are not aware that in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which India is a signatory, it is obligatory on the part of the Government to provide equal opportunities to persons with disabilities to fully participate in every sphere of life. Article-9(2)(e) on ‘Accessibility’ provides that States who are parties to the Convention shall take appropriate measures to inter-alia, “Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to …..”.

Apart from legal angle, as reported earlier two million of our citizens with hearing disability are denied of their economic potential and would have otherwise enormously contributed to the Indian economy.

We shall analyze the issues at the end after learning about the steps taken on a global scale by various other countries/NGOs. Various information available have been narrated to increase our vision. These developments would act as an inspiration for us to do better.

1. National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA has done yeo- man service to Deaf people. The mission of International Education Outreach at NTID is to expand education opportunities for Deaf communities outside of the United States by collaborating with Deaf leaders and institutions of other countries to build centers of excellence in Deaf education.

2. International Educational Outreach works to expand research and collaboration opportunities between NTID and international organizations for the Deaf. Their achievements worth mentioning are: (from website of RIT)

3. In 2001, the Nippon Foundation of Japan awarded NTID a grant to establish the Postsecondary Education Network-International (PEN-International). PEN-International was a multinational partnership of colleges and universities, whose goal was to improve and expand postsecondary education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students around the world by sharing educational technology and conducting faculty development and training.

4. After ten years of success with PEN-International, the Nippon Foundation awarded NTID further grants to establish the Pre-College Education Network (P-CEN) in 2011.

5. Participants in PEN-International and P-CEN include: China, Czech Republic, Russia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Viet Nam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malaysia.

6. What is the IEO approach which we too can learn, collaborate, and expand our efforts in those direction to benefit deaf people in our country? It is named IEO Projects approach. It is reproduced below:

“NTID uses a rights’-based approach to education and access technology development projects (UNCRPD): The deaf community members must be involved from the outset. Respect for local deaf culture and local signed languages partnership and local involvement is required. Interventions must have a strategic short-term and long-term advantage and Various technologies have an integral role in development.”

How far NTID succeed in their efforts to benefit or uplift deaf community?

Current projects: Deaf grow–Growing regional opportunities for the work for the deaf, Transforming reading in early education for deaf children, World around you –International collaborative multilingual sign language books (2020-2022)

Some of the past one’s worth recollecting:

  • World around you 2018-2019.
  • Languages of inter-active flexible technology-world around you (Lift – Way) – 2018.
  • Deaf education curriculum development and pilot teacher training in Cambodia.
  • African deaf education outreach initiative
  • Ethiopia exploration grant phase 1
  • Precollege education network
  • Post-secondary education net-work international

A global report titled international perspectives on leadership among deaf and interpreter communities was prepared based on responses submitted by 112 country respondents in total, with a response rate of 46% (57 out of 125) for the WFD participants and 75% (55 out of 73) for the WASLI participants.

The major conclusions arrived at were: (from website https://www.rit.edu/ntid/ieo)

  • Very few countries collect government-sanctioned data on the number of deaf persons and even fewer record details of sign language users.
  • There are insufficient sign language interpreters to meet the access needs of deaf people
  • There was diversity in how formal training was delivered to sign language interpreters, with the majority indicating that deaf people were eligible to participate in sign language interpreter training programs, although this did not necessarily translate into practice.
  • Most countries did not have a certification or accreditation system for sign language interpreters.
  • Some training was evident for both NADs and ASLIs including on how to work with sign language interpreters and on how to work with the Deaf Community respectively.

Many recommendations were also made.

These included:

  • Data collection specifically in relation to either deaf people or sign language users by country governments with NADs to advocate for this provision.
  • The need for training for NADs about the importance of data collection.
  • Greater communication and collaboration between sign language interpreter and deaf associations with regular review of relationships between the parties.
  • Increased funding for training for NADs and ASLIs.
  • More leadership training for the Deaf Community and sign language interpreters and other combined training offerings.
  • More professional development for ASLIs.
  • The need for and transparency of policies underpinning the operation of ASLIs.
  • The proposal to undertake a global survey regarding deaf people wanting to become sign language interpreters.

Analysis of the global scene with India’s present state of treatment of the upliftment of the deaf population.

ISLRTC, the Indian institute enjoying the patronage of the government authorities gave 34 certificates to the successful students.

I appreciate the baby steps taken by us as a nation. But do we any satisfaction by this token action?

A country reportedly 5th most economically developed, i.e., India has woken up after nearly 7 decades and it needs to expand exponentially to meet the needs of millions of deaf persons who did not have any hopes except on big industries which can under CSR initiatives spend lots of income to uplift the deaf people sector by establishing more schools, institutions who would train more sign language interpreters, merge our efforts with the best practices adopted by other countries and draw up an immediate, mid-term and long-term plans to implement all recommendations earlier in the article so that apart from making the students ready for the commercial world, their full potential as human beings must be fully utilized or enable them excel with the best facilities.

International collaboration, financial arrangements or even extensive CSR utilization of big companies by NGOs may hasten the growth of facilities available for deaf population who are otherwise highly talented.


Deaf persons are born with physical deformities, but it is not impossible to make them productive human beings like yourself, me, or anyone to excel any field of their liking. The recently held para- Olympics also enunciated the above facts.

Whose duty is it to improve the living standards of the deaf people. We collectively need to do every day something to make our nation a better place to live for all types of people. Many them are highly talented, born with many skills, and await proper facilities to excel. Our economy needs the inputs from them to prosper and achieve its goals.

Reference: https://www.rit.edu/ntid/ieo


Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc. before acting because of the above write up. The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By use of the said information, you agree that Author/Tax Guru is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors, or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. This is not any kind of advertisement or solicitation of work by a professional.

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October 2021