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Sign Languages Unite Us: Celebration of the International Day of Sign Languages 2022

On the occasion of the International Day of Sign Languages, the Division of Conference Management (UN Geneva), the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and the Swiss Federation of the Deaf are organizing several events on Friday September 23. These events will take place in person at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. They are open to the public; to access the Palais, visitors must register via Indico.


International Day of Sign Languages 2022


Sign Language Pop-up Cafe (Complimentary refreshments!)

The day will start with a sign language pop-up cafe conducted jointly with the Swiss Federation of the Deaf. Participants will be able to learn more about sign languages over complimentary tea, coffee, croissants, and Australian lamingtons. We also invite you to interact with a newly designed touch-screen experience to explore different sign languages across countries.

Location: Building E, Hall of Door 40
Time: 9:30-11:00 am

Theatre Performance in Swedish Sign Language

We will continue with a 15-minute performance from Riksteatern, a theatre group that peforms in Swedish Sign Language, on the theme of challenges facing deaf refugees. View the trailer for the play.

Location: Building E, Door 40, 3rd Floor, Balcony
Time: 1:10-1:30 pm

High-Level Discussion “ Sign Languages Unite Us ! ”

Later in the day, we invite you to participate in a high-level panel discussion on the importance of sign languages. Moderated by Kira Kruglikova, Director of the Division of Conference Management and opened with a keynote speech by Joseph Murray, President of WFD, the panel will include:

  • Mr. Alexandre Bloxs, Human Rights Officer, WFD
  • Mr. Gabriel Gonzalez, Deputy Minister for culture of Panama (via video)
  • Ms. Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures, and Right to Development Division, UN OHCHR
  • Mr. Joseph Murray, President, WFD
  • Ms. Elina Palm, Senior Coordination Officer, UNDRR
  • Ms. Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR

Location: Building E, Door 40, 3rd Floor, Room XIX
Time: 1:30-3:00 pm

These events are made possible with generous support from the Permanent Mission of Australia, the Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of Bahamas, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Lithuania, and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Did you know?

Sign language is a visual form of communication that uses hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions to convey meaning. Similar to spoken languages, and unlike general assumption, sign languages are not universal and vary from country to country. In fact, there are over 300 different sign languages in use around the world. Despite these variations sign languages share some common features: space is commonly used to convey information about distance and direction. Additionally, sign languages typically have their own grammar and syntax, which can be quite different from spoken languages. 

The United Nations recognizes the importance of sign language and has made efforts to promote its use internationally. The UN General Assembly has proclaimed September 23 as the International Day of Sign Languages to help raise awareness about sign language and the rights of deaf people. On this day, events are held worldwide to celebrate sign language and highlight its importance in promoting communication and inclusion.