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September 11, 2018

Did you know that September is deaf awareness month?

It’s that time of year again, folks! For the uninitiated, September is International Deaf Awareness Month, and with it comes a chance to make our voices heard.

It started out as the International Day of the Deaf back in 1958 and was championed by the World Federation of the Deaf – the UN-recognised representative of Deaf people worldwide. It’s since been extended to being the International Week of the Deaf, and comprises the entirety of the last full week of September, though a quick Google search will show that there is a lot of variation out there.

Local, regional and national organizations often having different weeks, days or even the whole month as their period of recognition! In South Africa, the official Government-recognised dates are from the 29 August to 4 September, meaning it’s actually technically already over. That doesn’t matter, though, as awareness is something we should always be working towards!

The purpose of Deaf Awareness Month (Or week, day, whatever!) is to increase public awareness of Deaf issues, people, and culture. Sign language, subtitled shows, accessibility at events, noise-consciousness, work safety, Deaf celebrities – there is so much we can share!

Read more: These 10 Hearing Loss Stories Defined 2017

What you can do to spread awareness

I’d like to encourage you to do something this month to spread awareness of hearing loss. It can be something to let your colleagues know about the things we struggle with, teaching sign language to kids in schools, making a poster to put up at your local library – if it helps to raise awareness and give others some understanding of our disability, share it! Our biggest enemy isn’t hearing people who are maliciously putting us down – let’s be honest, people like that are few and far between, and they’d pick any reason to put others down – it’s actually just ignorance. People don’t help because they don’t know how to help – make sense?

“…if it helps to raise awareness and give others some understanding of our disability, share it!”

So go ahead and do something creative to get the word out!

Last year I had the chance to work with the Cell C Sharks rugby squad and make this video.


Not everyone has the opportunity to do things as involved as that, but every bit counts. I’ll be presenting an assembly at the school I work at, and am keeping my eyes open for other opportunities.

At his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela read the following quote from Marianne Williamson:



“Our deepest fear is not that we are

inadequate. Our deepest fear is that

 we are powerful beyond measure. It

is our light, not our darkness that

most frightens us. We ask ourselves,

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,

Talented, fabulous? Actually, who are

you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the

world. There is nothing enlightened

about shrinking so that other people

won’t feel insecure around you. We

are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest

the glory of God that is within us. It’s

not just in some of us; it’s in

everyone. And as we let our own

light shine, we unconsciously give

other people permission to do the

same. As we are liberated from our

own fear, our presence automatically

liberates others.” Marianne Williamson


Go on. Shine. Take heart from the words chosen by a man who endured 27 years in prison to inspire those around him to build a nation. Show the world what we can do.

What are you doing to spread awareness this month? Let us know on social media or in the comments below!

A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191)
Mark was discovered to have severe hearing loss - total loss in his left ear, severe in the right - at the age of 3, owing to a Cytomegalovirus infection. He grew up as part of the mainstream community, and only started regularly wearing hearing aids at the age of 15, when his hearing loss dropped to profound levels. Rugby has always been a passion of his, and he's never stopped playing since getting his first opportunity in high school. His greatest claim to fame is playing for the South African Deaf Rugby team, a position he also uses to advocate for the Deaf community. However, he is afflicted with an interest in anything and everything, which manifests in limitless Star Wars puns, comments on the things making up the fabric of society, requests for your favourite banana bread recipes, a predilection for painting 28mm sci-fi models and the inability to fit into any of the proverbial descriptive "boxes" society likes to place people in. He currently lives in Durban with his wife, Amy.