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People from all over the globe can band together during the International Week of Deaf People with the common goal of promoting awareness related to sign languages and the people who use them. In addition, the desire is to create a society that has a greater understanding and embraces the diversity of everyone, including people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

History of International Week of Deaf People

The inaugural observance of the International Week of Deaf People was observed in 1958, in Rome, Italy, when it was founded through the efforts of the people at the World Federation of the Deaf.

Sometimes also called the International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf), this event has been celebrated for many decades with the purpose of promoting the work and culture of the deaf community, highlighting some of the different issues that are faced by deaf people, and fostering a world that is more inclusive for people of all different abilities.

In 2018, the United Nations declared the International Day of Sign Languages, taking place on September 23 to coincide with the events of this week. This event is now celebrated annually. 

Each year, the organizers of the International Week of Deaf People assign a theme for the event that helps to target the observance of the cause and bring people together. Some of the notable themes of the past years have included:

  • A World Where Deaf People Everywhere Can Sign Anywhere (2023)
  • Building Inclusive Communities for All (2022)
  • Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities (2021)
  • Reaffirming Deaf People’s Human Rights (2020)

How to Celebrate International Week of Deaf People

Take a look at some of these ideas to help with participating in the International Week of Deaf People observances:

Attend Local Week of the Deaf Events

Many communities, cities and towns all over the world will be engaging with the International Week of Deaf People by hosting various events and activities for everyone to get involved with. Deaf schools and organizations might host open houses for their facilities or provide opportunities to better learn about and understand deaf people and their culture.

Create Educational Opportunities

Parents, teachers and others who are invested in helping others learn can take this event as a perfect opportunity to foster growth. In celebration of the International Week of Deaf People, perhaps it would be effective to design lessons around the topic, encouraging students to try out some words in sign language.

Learn Sign Language

International Week of Deaf People, along with the day of sign languages, can be celebrated by committing to learn some new words with the purpose of being able to communicate with people who speak sign language. Take a course, hire a tutor, get online or download a learning app to open up a new world of language and begin speaking with your hands to a whole new population of people!

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