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