International Week of Deaf People 2021 and
International Day of Sign Languages 2021



Theme for 2021:
Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities

20 to 26 september 2021


Theme for 2021:
We Sign for Human Rights

23 september 2021


The International Week of Deaf People has been celebrated during the last full week of September. This week, we come together to recognise that deaf people have our 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 level.

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!”.

Online events


The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) are organising a webinar on 23 September 2021 to celebrate the International Day of Sign Languages. It is gathering a panel of high-level experts from the WFD, UNOG and State-Parties. The purpose of this webinar is to raise awareness and empower States Parties on the importance of sign languages. This webinar also aims to guide States Parties on what they can undertake to achieve and provide sign languages to everyone.


  • Dr Joseph J Murray - WFD President
  • Ms Shirley Liu - President of the WFD Youth Section
  • Mr Robert Nkwangu - Project manager of a WFD project - Uganda 
  • Dr Amalia Gamios - Vice Chair of the CRPD Committee
  • Ambassador Keva Bain of the Bahamas, Chair of the Human Rights Council Task Force on Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities
  • Ms. Kira Kruglikova, Director of the Division of Conference Management at UNOG and UNOG Focal Point for Disability Inclusion.

This year the WFD celebrates 70 years on 23 September 2021. Together with ENS, the Italian Deaf Association, an online event will be hosted. Dr Joseph Murray, WFD President and Mr Florjan Rojba, WFD Board Member, will be on site in Rome for the celebrations.

This will be the occasion to unveil the statue of Mr Vittorio Ieralla, the first president of the WFD.


As part of our International Week of Deaf People celebrations, the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is organising a webinar on 25 September 2021 on Deaf art and culture. It will bring together a panel that will share their experience on the topic and highlight deaf artists around the world who will provide short performances in celebration of our Thriving Deaf Communities.


  • Dr Joseph Murray - WFD President
  • Ms Mindy Drapsa - Riksteatern Crea (Sweden)
  • Ms Ayesha Ramjugernath - Socigo (South Africa)
  • Mr David de Keyzer - CineSourds & Festival Clin d'Oeil (France)

Daily themes


As of 2021, the International Week of Deaf will now be known as the International Week of Deaf People (IWDP).  This name change in name comes from the decision of the XVI WFD General Assembly, in which our Ordinary Members requested that

  1. The WFD work to establish an International Day of Sign Languages.
  2. Change the name of our annual celebration to the International Week of Deaf People.

We accomplished the first goal in 2017, with the UN Resolution recognizing 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages. From 2021, we celebrate the International Week of Deaf People!