Deafness is the third most common disability in the world, but you probably wouldn’t spot a deaf person in a crowd. So how do you know someone is deaf, what’s it like to be deaf, and how can you communicate? It’s important to realize is that people aren’t simply either deaf or hearing. There are varying degrees of deafness, from being hard of hearing to being profoundly deaf. Communication and community are a hugely important part of life. Deaf people are cut-off from the usual forms of communicating – a shout of warning, hearing your name at the doctors, over-hearing information in the street, or a passing word with a stranger. It means deaf people can feel isolated and can find it hard to get information or help in an emergency. That’s part of the reason that deaf people are twice as likely as hearing people to be affected by depression, anxiety and similar problems.
The first International Day of the Deaf was first celebrated by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in 1958. The day of awareness was later extended to a full week, becoming the International Week of the Deaf. The purpose of Deaf Awareness Week is to increase public awareness of deaf issues, people, and culture. Activities and events throughout Deaf Awareness Week encourage individuals to come together as a community for both educational events and celebrations. The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is an international, non-governmental organization of national associations of Deaf people and is recognized by the United Nations (UN) as their spokes-organization to promote the human rights of Deaf people. The WFD is composed of 130 national associations of the deaf and represents approximately 70 million Deaf people worldwide.