It’s International Week of Deaf People (IWDP)! With approximately 600,000 deaf people in the United States and 5% of the world’s population needing some form of hearing rehabilitation, it’s more important than ever to participate in the celebration that empowers and honors Deaf individuals.

The IWDP initiative, held this year from September 20 – 26th, is dedicated to honoring the achievements and contributions of the Deaf community and individuals with disabilities, highlighting their personal struggles and experiences throughout Disability history. The initiative first began in 1958 and is held annually in the last week of September.

As a captioning provider, Verbit is helping spread the message of inclusiveness and video accessibility, particularly during global celebrations such as the IWDP. Verbit encourages others to join in the festivities by learning about the meaning behind the initiative, and practical ways to show up for Deaf individuals and the disability community. While celebrating the past efforts to support the Deaf community, it’s also worth acknowledging the many ways to further spread messages of inclusivity and equity.

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A Quick History Lesson on IWDP

The International Week of Deaf People (IWDP) was first launched in 1958 and has been active now for over 60 years. The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) began the initiative in celebration of the first World Congress of the WFD which occurred in September of that year.

The IDWP is now an international celebration, with support from many leaders and individuals in the Deaf community, including sign language interpreters, higher education leaders and web accessibility experts. Events during the week typically take place daily, and include conferences, webinars and live streams held in-person and online.

The WFD continues to make an impact in the disability world. In 2017, it also helped pave the way for the establishment of the International Day of Sign Languages. A United Nations (UN) Resolution now officially recognizes this event on September 23rd every year.

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Honor & Celebrate the Deaf Community

Individuals can help honor the Deaf community by engaging with and celebrating Deaf individuals during the week, as expressed in this year’s IWDP theme “Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities.” Getting in touch with a Deaf individual who is open to sharing is a great way to start learning about that person’s individual experiences as well as the larger community and culture.

The IWDP also highlights daily themes like “Sustainable Deaf Leadership” and “Deaf Culture and Arts” that focus on a specific aspect of Deaf news and history. Online events are also available for those interested in attending remotely, including the World Federation of the Deaf’s 70th anniversary on September 23rd and a webinar on Deaf art and Culture on Saturday, September 25th.

As the celebration continues, Verbit is proud to join in the festivities by standing in solidarity with the Deaf community and honoring and empowering Deaf individuals. Part of Verbit’s mission is to provide tools and services that help make video content accessible, including captioning and audio description. Verbit continues to work with clients all over the world in different industries to help build a platform for video accessibility, with the ultimate goal of providing equitable access to individuals with disabilities. For more information on how to use video accessibility tools to support Deaf individuals, please reach out.