Published September 21, 2019
This video was recorded by Sukunya Bhan in Delhi, India. She tells us about her home sign variety of standard Indian Sign Language, which she learned by observing her Deaf parents while growing up. A home sign is a form of sign language that develops when a child is isolated from the broader signing community and learns or develops their own variety. Therefore, a home sign differs from the standard signing form that may exist in one's local community. Indian Sign Language is signed by over 2.5 million people. Also known as Indo-Pakistani Sign Language (IPSL), it is signed throughout South Asia, predominantly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It is thought to be largely indigenous, with perhaps some influence from British Sign Language. Although a large portion of the Indian Deaf community is literate, most of the schools for the deaf adopt an oralist approach, meaning they emphasize oral communication over signing, to the detriment of Deaf children who are not part of the hearing world. Oralists attempt to bridge the divide by implementing hearing aids, teaching lip-reading, and discouraging signing, despite the fact that millions of Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals use, live, and think in IPSL outside of school. IPSL is rarely taught officially in schools, and is not recognized as a minority language. IPSL communities are still working to gain regional recognition and proper educational support for the language.