How to take part in International Week of the Deaf 2022

week of the deaf

What is International Week of the Deaf?

Today marks the start of the International Week of the Deaf, a global event organised by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO reports that around 466 million people in the world are hearing impaired. 34 million of these people are children. Research also indicates that 60% of childhood deafness is preventable.

The International Week of the Deaf shines a spotlight on the advocacy work that the WFD does throughout the year, including improving the human rights of deaf people globally, recognising sign languages as national languages, as well as increasing access to education and technology.

This year’s overall theme is ‘Building Inclusive Communities for All,’ encouraging people to recognise and celebrate the achievements of deaf persons and declare sign languages as an essential human right. Deaf people should feel connected not only to others who share their disability, but also to those who are not affected by hearing impairment.

The International Week of the Deaf aims to focus each day on one key issue affecting people who are deaf.

What is the theme of Day 1 of International Week of the Deaf?

This day’s theme is ‘Sign languages in Education.’ The cognitive and social development of deaf children relies, in part, on their ability to learn sign language from the time they are born from fluent sign language role models. To learn another language, you must have a solid language foundation. This is often a struggle for deaf children because many of them are born into families that are not fluent in any national sign languages. As such, services must be put in place to offer sign language teaching and assistance to the families of deaf children who will often be learning sign language as adults.

What is the theme of Day 2?

The theme of Day 2 is ‘Sustainable Economic Opportunities for Deaf People.’ According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), 80% of people with disabilities, including deaf people, are of working age. As per other reports from around the world, deaf people show significant rates of unemployment. A step toward a more equitable society for deaf people is allowing them to gain access to a more just and inclusive labour market with comparable working conditions and pay to their peers without disabilities.

What is the theme of Day 3?

Day 3 focuses on ‘Health for All.’ Our most basic rights can only be exercised if we have complete access to healthcare and health-related information. However, when it comes to receiving access to services and information, deaf people face significant challenges, stigmatisation, and prejudice. For example, access to information relating to health is yet to be translated into national sign languages across the world.

The complete deficit in accessible information and health services has been brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic. When you couple many health services taking place online or via the telephone, with the use of masks making lip reading impossible, deaf people have struggled enormously to receive adequate healthcare. National governments have a duty to ensure that all people receive the same access to care.

What is the theme of Day 4?

Day 4 focuses on ‘Safeguarding Deaf People in Times of Crisis.’ In the last year, we have learned about new requirements and strategies for ensuring the safety of deaf people in emergency circumstances. Around the world, deaf people suffer from increased language loss, socioeconomic difficulties, and audism as a result of other global crises such as infectious diseases, climate change, and armed conflicts. The day seeks to emphasise the importance of protecting and upholding all deaf people’s human rights in light of the various interrelated and converging issues we confront today.

What is the theme of Day 5?

The theme of Day 5 is ‘Sign Languages Unite Us.’ On this day, we honour the current efforts of deaf communities, governments, and members of society to recognise the various national sign languages already used throughout the world. The WFD will encourage people to sign a declaration of support for sign language as an essential right for deaf people.

What is the theme of Day 6?

Day 6 will raise awareness of ‘Intersectional Deaf Communities.’  Deaf communities are multifaceted and intersectional. On this day, we honour the wide range of perspectives on life and living that deaf communities share. Gender, age, sexual orientation, language preferences, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religion are a few examples of the identities that deaf people have. The intersectional nature of deaf communities must be recognised and acknowledged by governments, service providers, and advocacy workers around the world. All deaf people living in a country should be included in deaf organisations and communities that respect and value all identities.

What is the theme of the final day of International Week of the Deaf?

The final day of International Week of the Deaf focuses on ‘Deaf Leadership for Tomorrow.’ For more than a century, deaf communities have formed representative organisations to advance their human rights. For these organisations to uphold the ethos ‘Nothing About Us Without Us,’ funding, capacity building, and empowerment is necessary.

To learn more or to get involved, please check out: World Federation of the Deaf