International Week of the Deaf 2019

Stories | September 25, 2019

This week is International Week of the Deaf (IWD).

What started off as an initiative of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in 1958 has grown to become a global movement to raise awareness about the human rights of Deaf people.

According to the World Health Organisation over 5 per cent of the world’s population are deaf. That’s approximately 466 million people (432 million adults and 34 million children).

The majority of deaf people live in low-and middle-income countries. This is largely due to lack of access to basic healthcare to treat infections such as measles, malaria and untreated ear infections, which can result in preventable hearing loss. 60 per cent of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.

Hearing loss in children often leads to social isolation and stigmatisation within communities. Many deaf children do not attend school and are less likely to be employed as an adult.

Sign language helps to bridge this education gap, both with adults and children. It also enables Deaf people to express themselves, communicate and participate in society.

Sign language is a fundamental aspect of deaf people’s human rights.

This year’s IWD theme is Sign Language Rights for All. It calls for decision makers to give linguistic rights to Deaf people and all sign language users.

Throughout the week you will have seen various information pieces around Deaf people. This includes:

  • Sign Language Rights for All (International Day of Sign Languages) – 23 September
  • Sign Language Rights for All Children – 24 September
  • Sign Language Rights for Deaf Senior Citizens – 25 September
  • Sign Language Rights for Deafblind people – 26 September
  • Sign Language Rights for Deaf Women – 27 September
  • Sign Language Rights for Deaf LGBTIQA+ – 28 September
  • Sign Language Rights for Deaf Refugees – 29 September

There are deaf people all over the world. It’s imperative that Deaf people are not overlooked or excluded, and are included in conversations that affect them.

Read more about the importance of celebrating sign language and creating an inclusive world.

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