Did you know? September is Deaf Awareness Month! Launched in 1958 by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), the initiative celebrates the history, cultures, and communities of deaf people around the world. It corresponds with the International Week of Deaf People and the International Day of Sign Languages.
International Week of Deaf People 2021 (September 20th – 26th)
While the entire month is dedicated to recognizing deaf people and their contributions, the International Week of Deaf People is of particular importance. The week, which commemorates the first World Congress of the WDF, focuses on the triumphs of deaf people and the challenges they still face.
This year, events will be hosted worldwide from Monday, September 20th to Sunday, September 26th. Daily themes include:
- Cherishing Deaf History – Monday, September 20th
- Sustainable Deaf Leadership –Tuesday, September 21st
- Sign Languages for All Deaf Learners – Wednesday, September 22nd
- We Sign for Human Rights – Thursday, September 23rd (This is also International Day of Sign Languages).
- Intersectional Deaf Communities – Friday, September 24th
- Deaf Culture and Arts – Saturday, September 25th
- Human Rights in Times of Crisis – Sunday, September 26th
All members of the worldwide deaf community are welcome to participate, including families of the deaf, sign language interpreters, and members of human rights and disability rights organizations.
How You Can Support Deaf Communities
If there are no events near you, there are still plenty of ways you can get involved and support your local deaf community. Below are just eight possibilities:
- Start learning sign language. (You can sign up for free lessons here).
- Share information about sign language families, including Black American and indigenous
- Follow Deaf YouTube creators and share their content on social media. Don’t forget to include #IWDP and #IDSL in your posts.
- Support deaf-owned businesses.
- Advocate for deaf accessibility in your community.
- Advocate for the use of Certified Deaf Interpreters at work or within your community.
- Volunteer at a nonprofit that assists the deaf or advocates for disability rights.
- Contact your representatives to advocate for the rights of deaf people.
Bonus: If you know someone who is deaf, ask them about their experiences. Simply being willing to listen and learn about the deaf experience can go a long way to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds.
How are you planning to celebrate Deaf Awareness Month? Let us know in the comments!