This year’s theme: Accessibility, freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information

International Week of the Deaf has a long history. The WFD first launched the International Day of the Deaf in 1958 and then later on the “day” was extended to a “week”. The reason why it is celebrated in September is because of the 1st World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf taking place in Rome, Italy, in September 1951. The choice of September for these celebrations is therefore natural in order to commemorate this historical event.  So at the same time the WFD is gathering together to discuss our current achievements and problems we wish to think about our past too. The WFD also recognizes that some associations prefer celebrating the International Week of the Deaf at another moment of the year which better reflects their country’s culture and customs.

This year the week is celebrated from 19 to 25 September culminating with International Day of the Deaf on the last Sunday of the week (25th of September).

What is the goal?

  • To organise a campaign that is visible, draws attention to your issue with the aim of bringing a change to the current state of affairs
  • To propagate information on the articles 9 and 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to decision makers
  • To ensure that the campaign(s) will be noticed and the message will also pass to wider society through sufficient media coverage

What would you like to change? (This list is not exhaustive)

  • Has your country ratified the CRPD and its Optional Protocol? If yes, how well are the national legislation and policies respecting the articles 9 and 21 of the CRPD?
  • Has your country’s government translated the CRPD as well as related handbooks and guidelines into sign language?
  • What is the situation in your country with regard sign language interpreting services?
    • Do they function well?
    • Do you always get an interpreter when you ask, both in your country and abroad?
    • Can you interact without a problem with an official when taking care of your personal affairs?
    • Are the sign language interpreters qualified and skilled – are the interpreter training programs sufficient in number and quality?
    • Are interpreting services at no cost to you?
    • Does the government understand how important sign language interpreting services are for your participation in society and equality?
    • Are professional sign language interpreters available in inclusive education settings?
    • Are you provided with an interpreter in a profession that you want to exercise and which would not be possible without sign language interpreting services?
    • Do you or your children receive quality education in sign language?
    • Is/are sign language(s) respected and recognised as (a) language(s)just as spoken languages in your country? If yes, are legislation and practices in line with the official status?
      • Is the recognition of sign language seen as a fundamental human right for all deaf people including infants and children?
      • Are official printed documents translated into sign language?
        • Are there sign language translations available of different web sites provided to the public for example on health services?
        • Are TV programs subtitled?
        • Can you watch different TV programs including news, in sign language every day for an ample period of time?
        • How are emergency situationsdealt with in your country?
          • Do deaf people always get the same information at the same time as others in crisis situation?

How to do?

  • Select one, two or more sub issues of the theme that you would like to introduce to decision makers of your country to improve the situation of the Deaf Community. Know exactly what the problem is and how you propose to solve it
  • Choose a strategy and implement it with careful planning: will you organise a march, event or ask for an appointment. Who will meet the decision makers, will you also involve the national/local Deaf Community and if yes how
  • Select (a) target group(s) with power to make a change to your problem, e.g. a group of parliamentarians, minister, vice-minister or another government representative, president or any other key decision maker in national or local level
  • Produce campaign material that strikes so that the decision makers will also have something to refresh their memory after meeting you in person
  • Invite media. Distribute information through your web site, newsletter, facebook, twitter and other ways if this is what you want from your campaign
  • You might also want to organise side-event(s) such as parties, cultural exhibitions and events, seminars or a sign language cafeteria to celebrate the International Week of the Deaf together with the deaf and hearing community. These events depending on their character can also have other, more “serious” aims than just having fun: invite the decision maker to your party too!

Full access to information and communications
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Step forward towards full Human Rights for deaf people