Illustration of two deaf people standing in front of an ear.

September is Deaf Awareness Month, with International Week of the Deaf taking place September 25th – September 29th this year. This month serves to increase awareness of d/Deaf culture and language and issues around accessibility for those who are deaf.

History of d/Deaf Awareness Month

d/Deaf Awareness Month began in 1958 when the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) initiated the International Day of the Deaf. The organization later extended International Day of the Deaf to a week-long celebration and Deaf Awareness Month. The WFD is an international organization made up of 130 associations of the deaf. It serves countries worldwide and focuses on improving inclusion, accessibility, and the rights of deaf people. In the United States, The National Association of the Deaf is an affiliate member of WFD.

Did You Know?

  1. About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
  2. Only 10% of deaf people are born to deaf families. The majority are born into hearing families.
  3. The first American School for the Deaf opened in April 1817. 
  4. International Day of the Deaf’s first celebration took place in 1958. 
  5. The term “deaf culture” was coined in 1965.
  6. National Deaf History Month began in 1997.
  7. Sign Language is not universal among d/Deaf people. 
  8. American sign language has its own syntax and grammar. It is not simply a signed version of English. 
  9. Not all deaf people identify with deaf culture. Everyone has a different relationship with their hearing loss. 
  10. The top d/Deaf friendly cities are Rochester, NY, Austin, TX, and Washington D.C., with deaf resource centers and accessible city features such as extra sidewalk space and lighting fixtures.  

How to Celebrate and Get Involved  

There are many ways to raise awareness and support d/Deaf communities in your area! 

  1. Find a local event to participate in either locally or virtually.
  1. Find resources to learn more about d/Deaf culture, inclusion, and accessibility. 
  1. Share resources about d/Deaf Awareness Month on social media or via a blog.
  1. Find ways to make events and your workplace more inclusive. Start by asking for accommodations on behalf of others. If you are attending a seminar, you can request captioning and sign language translators. 
  1. Think about the volume of your voice when speaking, and speak clearly. Speaking clearly doesn’t mean shouting, but it is important to recognize that not everyone can hear low voices and mumbled annunciations. 
  1. Not everyone who struggles with hearing loss will disclose it to you, so don’t assume the people around you have perfect hearing.
  1. Communicate with consideration. When talking to a deaf person, ask about their preferred method of communication. Take a few minutes to learn some primary sign language that may be necessary, like “help,” “yes,” and “no.” And always look at the person you’re addressing! Facing the person is necessary for lip reading.
  1. Caption your content! It’s such a simple gesture to make your content inclusive and make the lives of those who are deaf or hard of hearing easier.

Inclusivity For All 

At Caption Pros, our team of certified and professional human captioners provide accurate captioning services for many types of events. From public forums to business meetings and virtual conferences, we will help to make your next event accessible to all participants.