NDP proposes International Day of Sign Languages

Ontario NDP MPP Chris Glover (Spadina – Fort York), Official Opposition Critic for Accessibility and Disability Justice Sarah Jama (Hamilton Centre), and MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto – Danforth) announced their legislation today, September 18, 2023 to proclaim September 23rd as the International Day of Sign Languages to raise awareness about the importance of sign languages, the need for accessibility services, and the cultural importance of sign languages here in our province.

“There are 150,000 Ontarians who are Deaf, part of a global community of 70 million Deaf individuals who use sign languages and services,” said Glover. “The International Day of Sign Languages is a day to recognize and support sign languages and the communities that use them.”

This Bill, titled International Day of Sign Languages in Ontario Act, 2023, recognizes the significance of early access to sign languages and services, emphasizes the preservation of sign languages as a part of cultural diversity, and promotes the principle of inclusion and collaboration for Deaf communities.

“Erasure of languages has been a colonial tool for a long time,” shared Jama. “This is a step in the direction of making sure that Deaf people are able to keep their culture that has been attempted to stripped from them.”

“I am very proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill,” added Tabuns. “Sign language needs to be recognized and promoted for inclusivity and equality. I want to thank former MPP Gary Malkowski for his advocacy over the years and for bringing the idea of this bill forward.”

The Ontario NDP MPPs were joined by former MPP Gary Malkowski, the first and so far only Deaf person to be elected to the Ontario Legislature; Donald Prong, Executive Director of Ontario Association of the Deaf; and Leah Riddell, President of Ontario Cultural Society of the Deaf.

Ontario NDP