Deaf Awareness: Week 1

Starting September 2nd, ACDHH will be celebrating Deaf Awareness the entire month of September by posting different topics and tidbits. This is a wonderful opportunity for ACDHH to celebrate Deaf Awareness and recognize those who have contributed to where we are today. Be sure to check ACDHH website and Facebook page. 

Deaf Awareness

Deaf Awareness Week, also called International Week of the Deaf (IWD), is celebrated annually and ends with International Day of the Deaf on the last Sunday of the week.  Deaf Awareness Week is celebrated by national and regional associations of the deaf, local communities, and individuals worldwide.

History

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 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.

International Week of the Deaf is recognized by Deaf communities internationally.  The World Federation of the Deaf celebrates International Week of the Deaf the last week of September to commemorate the first World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, which took place in September 1951.  Many countries, like the United States, also celebrate the International Week of the Deaf the last week of September, but there are some countries that choose to observe the week at a different time.

National affiliates and regional partners of the World Federation of the Deaf help to lead International Day of the Deaf across the world.  The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) represents the United States at the General Assembly and World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf and they promote Deaf Awareness Week in the United States.

Source:  Signing Savvy

 

 Why Celebrate Deaf Awareness??

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.

Messages during Deaf Awareness Week include:

  • Celebrate the culture, heritage, and language unique to deaf people of the world.
  • Promote the rights of Deaf people throughout the world, including education for Deaf people, access to information and services, the use of sign languages, and human rights for Deaf people in developing countries.2
  • Recognize achievements of deaf people, including famous deaf individuals.
  • Educate about the misconceptions of being deaf and the challenges the deaf population face during everyday life.
  • Learn about types, degrees, and causes of hearing loss.
  • Be exposed to sign language and other ways deaf and hard of hearing people communicate.
  • Learn about the types of educational programs, support services, and resources that are available to the deaf and hard of hearing community, including children.
  • Gain a better understanding of deaf culture.
  • Understand that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are just as capable, able, and intelligent as hearing individuals. There is a difference in the way those that are deaf and hard of hearing communicate, but it is not a handicap or disability.

Source:  Signing Savvy

 

Veditz and Preservation of ASL

George W. Veditz, a leader and advocate, contributed greatly to the world, particularly the preservation and promotion of sign language. Born on August 13, 1861, Veditz was the seventh President of the NAD, serving from 1904 to 1910. More importantly, he was one of the most ardent and visible advocates of American Sign Language. Veditz became deaf at the age of eight from scarlet fever, attended what is now known as the Maryland School of the Deaf in Frederick from 1875 to 1878, and then attended Gallaudet from 1880 to 1884. Upon graduation from Gallaudet, he taught at the Maryland School of the Deaf and then at the Colorado School for the Deaf. Always an educator, Veditz continued to teach throughout his life, and contributed much to the educational structure of the Colorado School for the Deaf.

 At the beginning of the 20th century, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) was concerned that “pure sign language” might disappear under the pressures of oralism.  It was Veditz who realized in the early 1900s that the newly developed technology of motion pictures were an ideal way to convey the beauty of sign language to the world.

Thus, the NAD formed a Motion Picture Project; a total of $5,000 was raised for producing sign language films from 1910 through 1921 as “excellent examples” of sign language.  See the George W. Veditz Collection

In 1913, George W. Veditz made a fourteen-minute long film without subtitles – “The Preservation of the Sign Language” - demonstrating in sign language the importance of defending the right of deaf people to sign, For full script, go to the transcript  provided by Carol Padden. 

 

In 1965, the NAD transferred these films to the Gallaudet University Archives to better preserve the footage and to make it more accessible to the public.

On December 28, 2010, the Library of Congress announced it had named the landmark film, “The Preservation of the Sign Language” for inclusion in the National Film Registry.  Thanks to Veditz, sign languages all over the world continue to be documented via film.

 As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have signs.

And as long as we have our films, we can preserve signs in their old purity.

It is my hope that we all will love and guard our beautiful  sign language as the noblest gift God has given to deaf people.

- George W. Veditz, 1913

Thanks to his gift to us, the NAD continues to advocate for the preservation, protection, and promotion of American Sign Language for all deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States.

Source: NAD