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Sign Languages for Deaf Communities in developing countries as Social Capital Resource(2021_2_40_012)


People with disabilities are mentioned in targets related to five of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goals, although they are not explicitly included in the main 17 goals. Nevertheless, SDGs are more inclusive of people with disabilities compared with the Millennium Development Goals. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) also imposes an obligation on member states to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to all the rights enjoyed by people without disabilities. In accordance with SDGs and the CRPD, measures should be taken to ensure that no one with disabilities is left behind in the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, UN agencies have mentioned the issue of persons with disabilities in various statements and recommendations (e.g., “Disability considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak” by WHO and "COVID-19 Outbreak and Persons with Disabilities" by UNDESA ). However, the efforts of international organizations do not reassure the Deaf, considering that in many countries, persons with disabilities may be left behind, for example, when government officials delivery important announcements without sign language interpreters, meaning that the Deaf have not been reached. Persons with disabilities in developing countries, especially Deaf persons with hearing impairments, often use a sign language that is different from the main language of their countries. Sign languages are independent languages with their own grammar that differs from that of spoken languages. However, the existence and use of sign language is poorly understood in developing countries. Needless to say, the general public needs to recognize the existence of sign language and its role in society in order for Deaf people to play an active role as participants in economic development. There are some studies on the recognition of sign language as an official language, such as De Meulder et al. However, research in Japan is also almost non-existent, with the exception of studies on West African countries (Kamei, 2006), Sri Lanka and the Philippines (Mori, 2008), and Kenya and Senegal (Mori, 2016). To contribute to international goals such as SDGs and the CRPD, this paper takes a look at China (East Asia), the Philippines (Southeast Asia), India (South Asia), Kenya (Africa), and Brazil (Latin America) in order to summarize the historical development and social conditions of sign languages in these countries.


April 2021 - March 2023

Leader of the Research Project

Mori, Soya


Published by External Publisher (Japanese)