On 19 December 2017, the UN General Assembly declared 23 September as International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL). The resolution was proposed through the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the UN, following an original request by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). There were 97 UN Member States including Canada voted for adoption of the resolution as co-sponsors. The choice of 23 September commemorates the date the WFD was established in 1951. The objective of the IDSL is to raise awareness on sign languages and strengthen the status about sign languages.
The IDSL takes place on the last full week of September as part of the International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf), which was recognized and celebrated by the WFD in 1958. The IWDeaf is celebrated through various activities by respective Deaf communities in Canada and around the world. These activities call for participation and involvement of various stakeholders including families, peers, governmental bodies, professional sign language interpreters, and Disabled Person Organizations (DPOs).