The world this week on September 22 celebrated the day on use of sign language and the theme this year was “we sign for human rights,” as declared by the World Federation of the Deaf. The day is marked to highlight how each person - deaf and hearing - can work together hand in hand to promote the recognition of people’s right to use sign languages in all areas of life. However, people with hearing and speaking impairments in Rwanda are not satisfied with the current number of interpreters. The Rwanda National Union of the Deaf (RNUD) counts only 40 persons trained to interpret with sign language across the country despite the growing number of deaf persons in Rwanda. “Lack of sign language training course at the University of Rwanda or other institutions of higher learning hinders the development of the Rwandan Sign Language, which leads to the lack of qualified interpreters in the country,” said Samuel Munana, Executive Secretary of RNUD. According to RNUD statistics, there are over 70,000 people with hearing and speech impairment in Rwanda. There are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide according to the World Federation of the Deaf, and over than 80 per cent of them live in developing countries. People with hearing and speaking impairments in Rwanda also recently renewed their appeal to the government to include sign language as Rwanda’s fifth official language as they had previously done in 2018. “We are always left out in terms of information access in every sector, like health services where doctors do not know sign language, lack of education where teachers do not know sign language, and justice,” had said Munana in a previous interview with The New Times. Munana also says that if the teachers of the Rwandan sign language would be more professionally trained, it would be very beneficial to the country as a whole. According to Munana, “If Rwandan sign language could be the mode of instruction of learners who are deaf right from early age, it will facilitate the cognitive development of these children.” Collectively, there are more than 300 different sign languages. Rwandan Sign Language is a unique language and independent on its own. “It has its own linguistic grammar just like other languages. There’s no universal sign language all over the world as people in Rwanda may presume,” Munana said. However, there is an international sign language, which is used by deaf people in international meetings and other international events.