From September 20th through September 26th, the Disability community and its supporters are joining together to celebrate the International Week of Deaf People (IWDP). The initiative, which was originally launched by the World Federation of the Deaf in 1958, symbolizes the achievements and contributions of the Deaf community as well as honors the struggles that Deaf individuals have endured throughout history.
With approximately 5% of the world’s population needing some form of hearing rehabilitation, the Deaf and hard of hearing communities represent a significant part of the global community. It’s thanks to their endurance and strength that many of the advancements in disability legislation and web accessibility exist today.
As global communities join together to honor Deaf individuals and share their stories, AST is proud to celebrate the International Week of the Deaf People. As part of this celebration, AST encourages you to join in on the festivities by learning about the initiative’s mission, including actionable steps that you can take to help empower the Deaf community during this week and beyond.
How It Got Started
The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) first launched the International Week of Deaf People in 1958. For 60 years, the celebration has occurred in the last week of September to commemorate the first meeting of the World Congress. The WFD’s efforts most recently led to the establishment of the International Day of Sign Languages in 2017. A United Nations (UN) Resolution officially set the date as September 23rd every year.
Since its inception, the International Week of Deaf People has grown to become a well-known global celebration, with conferences, activities and other events held and managed by the Deaf communities on an international level. Leaders and stakeholders from the disability community play a large part in this celebration, including contributions from individuals with disabilities, sign language interpreters, government agencies and disability-focused organizations.
A Few Highlights In Deaf History & Culture
In addition to learning about the celebration’s mission, learning about significant events in Deaf history and culture is important to help create a greater understanding of Deaf individuals and their personal experiences. Some important highlights in disability history include:
- Disability Legislation: In the late 1990s, Deaf advocacy played a critical role in the passage of Disability legislation like the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508.
- Digital Accessibility: The Domino’s web accessibility case paved the way for greater web accessibility awareness when the case was first filed in 2017. The court ordered compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), guidelines that have helped many organizations reach their goals of providing effective digital accessibility.
- Representation in Popular Media: In TV and film, documentary films like “Crip Camp” have helped shed light on the outcomes of disability movements like the 504 Sit-In of 1977 and highlight the need for authentic representation of real individuals with disabilities in popular media.
Within the video accessibility industry, captioning history reveals that more people are taking advantage of video accessibility services than ever before. Captions, which make videos accessible to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, are now used by many different individuals. Research shows that 80% more people watch an entire video when captioning is provided, whether or not they are an individual with a disability. AST’s leadership has noticed an overall increase in the need for captioning, transcription and audio description services, particularly during last year’s pandemic-related shift to remote work.
Get Involved & Celebrate
The theme for this year’s International Week of Deaf People is “Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities.” Help empower the Deaf community by engaging with Deaf individuals and leaders during the week-long celebration. The event also offers daily themes to help guide individuals as they look for different ways to support Deaf individuals.
Daily Themes for the week 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
- Intersectional Deaf Communities: Friday, September 24th
- Deaf Culture and Arts: Saturday, September 25th
- Human Rights in Time of Crisis: Sunday, September 26th
Additionally, hosts will invite the public to an event dedicated to the International Day of Sign Language on Thursday, September 23, and a webinar on Deaf art and culture on Saturday, September 25th.
AST’s Commitment to the Deaf Community
As a video accessibility provider, AST is committed to promoting the support and success of individuals with disabilities, including the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. The International Week of Deaf People represents an integral part of AST’s mission, which includes helping spread the importance of improving lives and learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities. For more information on how video accessibility can help support Deaf communities, reach out.