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NCERT Announces Plan to Translate Textbooks Into Sign Language

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Oct 7, 2020

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The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) to translate textbooks and educational material into sign language for deaf children to use.

According to a statement from India’s Press Information Bureau, Hindi and English educational print materials like textbooks, teachers’ handbooks, and other supplementary materials used as resources for Class I-XII will be converted into images of Indian Sign Language and offered in a digital format.

Until now, children with hearing disabilities have only been offered spoken or textual media to learn. Using sign language as well helps enhance vocabulary and the capacity to understand concepts, according to Shakuntala Gamlin, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Person With Disabilities, told PTI.

According to the 2011 census, around 50 lakh deaf individuals currently live in India, and many of them use Indian sign language. Yet, the country has less than 300 certified ISL interpreters in India as of now. The ISLRTC, a sub-section of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, was formed after years of protest by the deaf community in the early 2000s. Plus, ISL is not used to teach deaf children, and many Indian parents are unaware of sign language and its benefits, according to the ISLRTC.


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Research states that learning sign language early allows communication in two modes — which is not possible with two oral languages. Students who can speak both a verbal language and a sign language can co-activate both languages without cost to speech or sign. Being  ‘bimodally bilingual‘ provides cognitive benefits, helps children learn gestures in speech, improves their ability to identify facial expressions, and enhances their vocabulary.

“The availability of NCERT textbooks in Indian Sign Language (ISL) will ensure that hearing-impaired children can also now access educational resources and it will be a useful and much-needed resource for teachers, teacher educators, parents, and the hearing-impaired community,” Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot told PTI.

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Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is the senior culture writer at The Swaddle, with an interest in cultural analysis, environment, and the science of mental health.  Write to her using aditi@theswaddle.com, or find her on social media @aditimurti.

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