The first International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) Commemorative Event took place on 23 September 2018, at YouTube Space Tokyo in Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. The Organizers of the IDSL Commemorative Event, the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD RSA) and the Nippon Foundation cooperated with the Japanese Federation of the Deaf in hosting this event.

Deaf people from China, Vietnam, and Iran came all the way to Japan to attend this meaningful event. In addition, Embassies in Japan and stakeholders in the international deaf community also participated at this event together.

As MC to the event, Deputy Director of WFD RSA, Ms. U Ka Weng announced the beginning of the IDSL Commemorative Event. It began with a welcome address by Mr. Yasunori Shimamoto, the Regional Director of WFD RSA, an address by Mr. Hongjoo Hahm, the Officer-in-Charge of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific via pre-recorded video, and followed by the address given by Mr. Manabu Horii, the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The ambassadors and delegates from the Embassies in Japan learned the sign name for their own countries as the program went on. There were participations from the deaf communities in Asia via Live Talk, we were excited to have deaf people in Indonesia, Lao and Macau to share their joy in celebrating the IDSL and also their sign language – “Friends”, “Thank you”, “Sign Language” and “Like” so that the participants could learn different sign languages from different countries altogether. Then, the program was followed by a lecture “Sign Language and Society” delivered by Professor Maher from the International Christian University, an address by Mr. Yoshitaka Sugihara from Google Japan and ended with a sign language workshop conducted by Mr. Takashi. And here comes part two.

Part two of the program commenced with the greetings from Mr. Kazuhiro Yoshikura, Executive Director of the Nippon Foundation, the address delivered by Mr. Shinji Hirai, Governor of Tottori Prefecture who was also the Chair of Governor’s Assembly for Promotion of Sign Language, and followed by the address by Mr. Fujisaburo Ishino, President of Japanese Federation of the Deaf. The panel discussion began as the panelist Dr. Maher, Mr. Hirai and Mr. Ishino sat on stage when the Moderator Mr. Daigo Ishibashi, board member of JFD raised the discussion with the panelist and the participants under the theme “Sign Language and Communication”.

The first ever IDSL Commemorative Event was broadcasted LIVE on YouTube on 23 September 2018. You could still watch the recap by clicking this link:

About International Day of Sign Languages

From the United Nations:

- Introducing IDSL:

- UN Resolution:

From the World Federation of the Deaf:

- International Sign Version:

- United Nations declared 23 September as International Day of Sign Languages:

- International Day of Sign Languages and International Week of the Deaf 2018:



The first eye-catching backdrop we saw when entering the venue



The Opening of the IDSL Commemorative Event



Ambassadors and Delegates from Different Embassies



Panel Discussion “Sign Language and Communication”



Governor of Tottori shared his experience – in spoken Japanese and JSL at the same time!



A great opportunity to work with this TEAM.

Thank you, The Nippon Foundation & YouTube!



Representatives from Vietnam, Iran and China



Working with the International Sign interpreters before going up stage



Lovely Souvenirs



WFD RSA & the International Sign Interpreters

Transcription of the Video:


I am Regional Director of WFD Regional Secretariat for Asia. I am Yasunori Shimamoto.

I am now at United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, celebrating the International Day of Sign Languages.

Here, it emphasises the importance of sign language for the rights to education which everyone should be aware of. It is fascinating!

In the coming September 23, 2018, WFD RSA will celebrate the International Day of Sign Languages in Tokyo. The celebration of International Day of Sign Languages is an event I would like as many people as possible to watch the LIVE STREAM.

You can watch it on YouTube Live. Please find the link to YouTube Live and watch the celebration of the International Day of Sign Languages!

Thank you!


On December 19, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution to declare September 23as the International Day of Sign Languages. This resolution was co-proposed by more than a half of the UN member states, Antigua and Barbuda and other 97 states, in response to the request from the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and adopted as a consensus. The resolution states sign languages have an equal status with spoken languages, through the International Day of Sign Languages, promotes member states to take measures to raise awareness on sign language in the entire society to fully ensure the human rights of deaf people. 

WFD RSA and The Nippon Foundation jointly host a celebration event on 23 September 2018 at Tokyo, Japan to celebrate the first International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL), which was adopted by the United Nations, along with governmental officials and deaf organizations in Asia region to raise awareness of sign languages throughout the region. There would be opening addresses from our guests of honour, a lecture from Dr. John C. MAHER and a workshop in the morning. And there will be panel discussions relating to “Sign Language and Communication” with experienced professionals including the government official.

Regional Director Mr. Shimamoto made an announcement regarding this event while he was at the 20 UN CRPD Committee. A recap from his announcement can be found at this link: (around 1:23.30)

The IDSL Commemorative Event on 23rd September 2018 will be LIVE streaming through YouTube via this link:

QR Code to the YouTube LIVE streaming:

1. IDSL Commemorative Event

2. Tentative Agenda of IDSL

September marked the beginning of an important week for the deaf people in the world – the International Week of the Deaf. But this year made it even more important as the UN proclaimed 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) and to be observed each year beginning in 2018.

As part of the pre-event to celebrate the 1st IDSL, WFD RSA took the time to outreach to the embassies in Tokyo, and met with their ambassadors to advocate the importance of Sign Languages not only in Japan, but also in the countries they represent and Sign Languages are assets to the world, not only to the deaf but also to the hearings.

As a result, WFD RSA has visited the Embassy of Afghanistan, Lao, Malaysia, Iran, Nepal, Singapore, China, Philippines and Maldives in Tokyo.

 Visiting the Embassies 1

Embassy of Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore and Embassy of China.


Visiting the Embassies 2

Embassy of Philippine, and Embassy of Maldives.