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National Deaf Awareness Month

Discover the history and significance of National Deaf Month, and learn more about other important recognition dates. Click here to read more!

Colton Jannusch
Author:
Colton Jannusch
National Deaf Awareness Month
Colton Jannusch
Colton Jannusch

A passionate and dedicated English teacher who creates an inclusive and engaging learning environment, inspiring students to develop their language skills and cultivate a lifelong love for literature.

Did you know that September is Deaf Awareness Month in the United States? 

Deaf Awareness Month is a month-long celebration dedicated to increasing public awareness of deaf culture and deaf issues as well as recognizing the heritage and language unique to the deaf and hard of hearing community. 

We, for one, believe that this is a wonderful way for the deaf community to promote greater awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by the deaf community in accessing communication. Inclusion is important. 

Join us to discover how this celebration of our community began and in what ways we can celebrate together locally, nationally, and internationally.

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History of Deaf Awareness Month

The first International Day of the Deaf was celebrated by the World Federation of the Deaf in 1958. It used to be just a single day, before being later extended to a full week, becoming the International Week of the Deaf, observed annually throughout the last full week of September (to commemorate the first World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, which took place in September of 1951).

This is not to be confused with Deaf History Month that happens in April every year. Deaf History Month is centered around celebrating the history of deaf culture and the many achievements made by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. It is celebrated in April to mark two significant dates in deaf education history:

  • April 15, 1817 – The first public school for the deaf was opened in the U.S.
  • April 8, 1964 – Gallaudet University, the first and only university in which all programs and services are designed for deaf and hard of hearing students, was opened.

Other dates of recognition include:

  • World Day of The Deaf, which is recognized every last Sunday of September in order to help deaf people and their communities find a safe space in society at large. Through this initiative, many people have become interested in helping deaf people fit into society better. 
  • National Audiology Awareness Month, which takes place in October to raise awareness towards hearing loss caused by growing noise pollution and poor listening habits.

Unlike the world day of the deaf and the national audiology awareness month, during Deaf Awareness Month, the emphasis is on educating people about deaf culture and language. 

For instance, did you know that there is no one universally accepted sign language? 

According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are over 200 sign languages being used daily around the world. Many countries have their own system for signing outside of American Sign Language. Take for instance Martha’s Vineyard, which had a large mixed population of deaf and hearing people living on the island during the 17th to mid-20th century. In certain towns on the island, nearly everyone used sign language, and deafness was accepted as a regular part of daily life.

How To Celebrate Deaf Awareness Month

This list is designed to empower community members to raise awareness about the diversity of the deaf and hard of hearing community through fun activities outside or inside your own home. 

  • Learn about "deaf gains" - advantages to being deaf or hard of hearing! 
  • Invite a deaf speaker to break down any stigma associated with the FM system, hearing aids, cochlear implants, sign language interpreters and more.
  • Helping children take part in educational lessons about the deaf and gently address cultural differences from an early age.
  • Support local theaters that provide accessibility by gathering some friends and family to attend a captioned movie night! Bonus points: Without sound!
  • Volunteer at schools with deaf and hard of hearing programs and related community events.
  • Support local deaf-owned businesses and organizations.
  • The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) also has some tips on community participation for those of you who are deaf and hard of hearing. 
  • Get active in your local Deaf community! Events like ASL Bingo, ASL Slam, ASL Trivia, and Deaf Night Out can be found in cities across the United States and around the world. Contact local or regional organizations to learn more about these opportunities.
  • Set up a book club with your family or community! Choose a book about the deaf/coda community and meet as a group to discuss the things that you learned or had an impact on you.
  • Invite some friends over and catch up on TV shows that showcase #deaftalent. Binge watch season of Switched at Birth or relive Nyle DiMarco’s journey on America’s Next Top Model and Dancing With The Stars.
  • Learn ASL!

Conclusion

Celebrating National Deaf Awareness Month is a great way to create a Deaf CAN attitude and break down barriers and preconceived notions of the deaf and hard of hearing in society.  

We hope this blog post inspires you to explore different facets of deaf culture, deaf history, and the deaf and hard of hearing community with your network, not only during September, but year round 🙂

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