Indian Sign Language (ISL) is the predominant sign language in South Asia, used by at least several hundred thousand deaf signers (2003). As with many sign languages, it is difficult to estimate numbers with any certainty, as the Census of India does not list sign languages and most studies have focused on the north and on urban areas.
A PIL was recently filed in Delhi to get recognition for ISL under the VIII schedule of the Constitution of India.
It was claimed that due to inadequate awareness about Indian Sign Language persons with hearing disability suffer and it invents discomfort and discrimination. The lack of explicit government recognition affects the promotion in preservation of the language. Therefore the government shall be directed to include sign language in Schedule VIII of the Constitution by the Petitioner.
The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution consists of the 22 languages. Fourteen languages were initially included in the Constitution. Sindhi language was added in 1967. Thereafter three more languages viz., Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were included in 1992. Subsequently Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali were added in 2004.
In Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016, Section 16 preserves and promotes Indian Sign Language for the purpose of education while Section 42 shows the access to Electronic information in sign language report. Indian Sign Language training and Research Centre has been established by the government to promote the language was emphasised by the Division bench of Justice Patel and Justice Shankar referred to the affidavit filed by the Central Government
Therefore Delhi High Court held that there are adequate provisions under Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 to recognise, preserve and promote Indian Sign Language. The Court also pointed that the concern of including Indian Sign Language in Schedule VIII of the Constitution shall be taken by the government and not the Court.