International Week of the Deaf is celebrated by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and its national associations and their affiliates globally during the last full week of September (Monday through Sunday), culminating with International Day of the Deaf on the last Sunday of the week.
The WFD is an international organization composed of 130 national associations of the deaf that, in collaboration with the United Nations, serves all countries with focus on improving human rights of deaf persons, the status of national sign languages, access to education, and access to information technology and services. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) represents the United States as an affiliate member of the WFD.
The WFD today encourages its national associations and their affiliates to celebrate International Week of the Deaf by focusing on the theme of Human Rights through Sign Languages. This focus gives greater attention to deaf culture and the achievements of deaf people, portrayed in a positive way. This focus also increases solidarity among deaf people and their supporters, and provides an opportunity to stimulate greater efforts to promote the rights of deaf people throughout the world.
In the United States, celebration of International Week of the Deaf is held throughout the year, not only during the last full week of September. For instance, the NAD took part in the Midwest DeaFest, jointly hosted in August 2009 by four state associations of the deaf. Affiliate organizations or other groups may hold a Deaf Festivals during a given day or month (in April, as an example), or a library may have an exhibit in December in honor of the birth of Laurent Clerc (December 26, 1785) and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (December 10, 1787).
Events can also range from a themed exhibit in the corridor of a school to a full week of activities scheduled throughout a given city. Performing artists, lectures, art exhibits, film festivals, historical exhibits, Deaf Festivals, booths in area shopping malls, cultural activities held in conjunction with sporting events — these are just a sampling of past events held across the nation.
- Gain greater understanding of the American deaf and hard of hearing community and its culture and heritage.
- Learn about sign language as an essential human right and how it is growing in popularity across the United States.
- Find out about resources within your community, e.g., sign language classes.
- Discover ways to promote the human rights of deaf people and access to education and technologies.