Introduced by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and celebrated by other groups and organizations around the world, the last full week of September is International Week of Deaf People. The week begins Monday, Sept. 19, and ends Sunday, Sept. 25, which is also International Day of the Deaf.
More than 70 Years of Advocacy
Established in 1951 in Rome, Italy, the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is one of the oldest international organizations of persons with disabilities. The WFD held its first International Congress with delegates from 25 different countries, and outlined its goal to help people who are deaf around the world remove barriers to full accessibility, equal human rights, and participation in policymaking decisions that affect them.
In 1958, the WFD celebrated the first International Day of the Deaf and the celebration eventually grew into International Week of Deaf People. Later, the WFD gained status as a consultative organization to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Over time, the WFD continued to collaborate with the United Nations as a means of advancing disability rights. In the 1990s, the group was instrumental in getting the United Nations General Assembly to acknowledge the right to access education for children who are disabled – especially for children who are deaf – to receive education in sign language and have access to interpretation services.
By celebrating International Week of Deaf People, we celebrate the many gains that are to be made by continuing to work toward a more inclusive society, as well as bring awareness to the many ways in which there still exist barriers to full accessibility.
“Building Inclusive Communities for All”
The theme for this year’s International Week of Deaf People is “Building Inclusive Communities for All,” with sub-themes for each day focusing on different components of building inclusive communities. They include focusing on education, economic opportunities, health and safety, sign language, intersectionality, and leadership.
In the United States, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has compiled a list of ways to celebrate International Week of Deaf People in a video posted on their social media. One of the ways to celebrate includes ensuring your posts and videos include captions, transcripts, and/or sign language.
At VITAC, we believe that accessibility is vital, it’s baked into our purpose. VITAC has worked with caption viewers and advocacy groups for more than 35 years, and strongly believes in the need to make accessible content standard. We proudly support the rights and needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and we stand by our commitment to provide captions and accessible solutions for our clients, all while maintaining the highest quality for our consumers, the tens of millions of Americans who rely on captioning every day.
Captions and accessible content benefit millions of people, including:
- The more than 50 million Americans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
- The estimated three million children learning to read who use captioning as a tool to improve reading and listening skills
- The 10 million people over the age of 17 for whom English is not their first language and use captioned television as a powerful and effective literacy and language-learning tool
- The two million Americans over the age of 62 who suffer from hearing loss and do not use hearing aids
- The one-third of all veterans who returned from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer substantial hearing loss
By making audio and audio-visual content accessible, you’re contributing to the WFD’s goal for this week of Building Inclusive Communities for All.