International Week of Deaf People 2021

Today is the start of International Week of Deaf People 2021.

This week, we come together to recognise that deaf people have their own communities, our own cultures, our own languages, sign languages, which unite us all.

This year’s theme for the International Week of Deaf People is “Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities”. Deaf communities have been expanding and thriving throughout the years and giving us all strength, now is the time to celebrate their incredible endurance at the local, national and international levels.

This is an important week for the recognition of deaf people, it is vital for deaf communities and deaf organisations. This falls under the key principle, “Nothing about us, without us!”.

Each day has a specific theme:

  • Monday – Cherishing Deaf History
    • Deaf communities and our sign languages have existed for several centuries. Today, we take the time to cherish the proud histories of deaf peoples and our thriving communities, and the many people, deaf, codas, allies, who have worked together to enable the flourishing communities found today around the world.
  • Tuesday – Sustainable Deaf leadership
    • Deaf communities throughout the world have organised into representative associations to advance their human rights. These organizations need funding, capacity building, and empowerment to carry out the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us”.
  • Wednesday – Sign Language for all Deaf learners
    • Acquisition of sign language from birth from fluent sign language models is critical to the cognitive and social development of deaf children. A strong foundational language is necessary to learn other languages. As many deaf children are born into families who are not yet sign language users, services must be in place to provide sign language learning and support to families so that they can become fluent sign language users.
  • Thursday – We sign for Human Rights
    • We Sign For Human Rights! On this International Day of Sign Languages, we celebrate our collective efforts- deaf communities, governments, and civil society representatives- to recognize and promote the over 200 different national sign languages around the world. Together we sign onto a declaration of support for sign languages as an essential human right for deaf people, and sign for human rights!
  • Friday – Intersectional Deaf communities
    • Intersectionality is a framework for understanding how social and political identities combine to create experiences of discrimination and privilege and can include aspects such as gender, sex, race, disability, sexuality, religion and language. There is interesting intersectionality for Deaf communities in being both a cultural-language group and members of disability populations. This intersectionality is highlighted in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that outlines disability rights and linguistic and cultural rights for deaf people.
  • Saturday – Deaf culture and arts
    • Deaf people regularly come together to share their language and culture. Deaf culture involves the behaviours, traditions, beliefs, values, history, humour, art that exists within Deaf communities. Deaf communities are proud of their linguistic and cultural identity and celebrate that regularly in many different ways.
  • Sunday – Human rights in a time of crisis
    • The past year has shown us new needs and new ways of guaranteeing the well-being of deaf people in situations of crisis. Under the circumstance of different crises, including infectious diseases, climate change, natural disasters, and armed conflict, deaf people all over the world experience language deprivation, socioeconomic disadvantages, and audism. Today, we emphasize the importance of securing and maintaining the human rights of all deaf people during different, multiple, and overlapping crises. This is also the theme for the 19th World’s Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in 2023.

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