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NCERT Books in Indian Sign Language

  • 07 Oct 2020
  • 6 min read

Why in News

The Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to make NCERT textbooks accessible to hearing-impaired students in sign language.

Key Points

  • About the MoU: NCERT textbooks, teachers’ handbooks and other materials for Class I-XII of all subjects in Hindi and English medium would be converted into Indian Sign Language (ISL) in digital format.
  • Significance:
    • It is a step towards fulfilling needs of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016 and New Education Policy, 2020.
    • Signing of this MoU is based on the United Nations Children's Fund - UNICEF’s initiative “Accessible Digital Textbooks for All”.
    • So far, hearing impaired children used to study only through verbal or written medium now they can study through Indian Sign Language which is the same all over the country.
    • In the childhood days, cognitive skills of children are developed and it is very necessary to provide them educational material as per their learning needs.
      • It will not only enhance their vocabulary but also enhance their capabilities to understand concepts.
  • Indian Sign Language (ISL):
    • Broadly, it’s a set of hand and facial gestures used to communicate, most often by the hearing and speech impaired.
    • It has its own grammar, syntax and regional “dialects", essentially different gestures for the same word or sentiment.
    • The main difference from spoken languages lies in form: Sign languages are visual, spoken ones are auditory.
      • Sign language is recognized as an official language in many countries across the world like the USA.

Hearing Impairment in India

  • Statistics:
    • According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, the prevalence of hearing impairment (HI) in India is around 6.3% (63 million people suffering from significant auditory loss).
      • The estimated prevalence of adult-onset deafness in India is 7.6% and childhood-onset deafness is 2%.
    • The larger percentage of Indian population also suffers from milder degrees of hearing loss and unilateral (one sided) hearing loss.
    • Nearly 50% of deafness can be prevented if primary health-care approach is adopted for otological care (care of ear and its diseases) across the world.
  • Initiative for Prevention:
    • National Program for Prevention and Control of Deafness (NPPCD): It was launched in 2006 in an effort to tackle the high incidence of deafness in the country, in view of the preventable nature of this disability.
      • Funding Pattern:
        • 60:40 for all states except for the North Eastern and Himalayan States (90:10).
        • In case of Union Territories, Central funding is 100% for all UTs except the UTs with legislature, where this ratio is 60:40.
      • Objectives of the Program:
        • To prevent the avoidable hearing loss on account of disease or injury.
        • Early identification, diagnosis and treatment of ear problems responsible for hearing loss and deafness.
        • To medically rehabilitate persons of all age groups, suffering with deafness.
        • To develop institutional capacity for ear care services by providing support for equipment and material and training personnel.
  • Other initiatives:
    • Accessibility of news and educational videos with the incorporation of sign language/or written text subtitles and transcripts.
    • Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016: Includes provisions for hearing impaired people.
    • New Education Policy, 2020: Universalization of education (including disabled) from preschool to secondary level with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.

Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre

  • ISLRTC is an autonomous national institute of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • It was established in 2015.
  • It is dedicated to the task of developing man-power for popularizing the use of Indian Sign Language, teaching and conducting research in Indian Sign Language.


  • It is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Education (MoE) which is responsible for:
    • Ensuring qualitative improvement in school education by undertaking and promoting research in areas related to school education.
    • Prepare and publish model textbooks, supplementary material.
    • Develop and disseminate innovative educational techniques and practices.
  • Act as a nodal agency for achieving the goals of Universalization of Elementary Education.

Source: PIB

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