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International Week of the Deaf: Equality for Deaf People

This week is International Week of the Deaf and the theme for 2013 is Equality for Deaf People. But what is International Week of the Deaf?

The World Federation of the Deaf describes International Week of the Deaf as an annual week-long event celebrated by deaf people worldwide during the last full week of September.  The World Federation of the Deaf has 133 national associations that organize events, marches, debates, campaigns, fundraisers, and meetings every year to bring attention to the Deaf community and topics regarding human rights and the Deaf.  “International Week of the Deaf is about gathering together, becoming united and showing that unity to the rest of the world. The International Week of Deaf also increases solidarity among deaf people and allies and is used as a way to stimulate greater efforts to promote the rights of deaf people.”

Approximately 600,000 people in the United States are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. It is currently estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 people use ASL (American Sign Language). This population includes native signers, CODA’s (Children of Deaf Adults), Hard of Hearing individuals, and many others. This diversity in language and backgrounds in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities is something we all should celebrate.

American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, complex language that employs signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the primary language of many North Americans who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc, two important educators of Deaf individuals, established the Gallaudet and Clerc’s school in 1817 in Harford Connecticut, as the first public free deaf school in the US, now known as the American School for the Deaf. This was a huge milestone in American Deaf history.  Although French Sign Language was the official sign language of the school, the students brought signs from home with them. American Sign Language stemmed from these signs as well as signs from French Sign Language. The American Sign Language of today still reflects its French Sign Language origins, although the two languages are distinct.

At CyraCom, we offer American Sign Language as one of our Video Remote Interpretation languages. Instead of booking an interpreter in advance or waiting hours for one to become available, we offer American Sign Language interpreters on-demand in 30 seconds or less. We want to help you with achieving your own goals of contributing to the theme of equality for Deaf people by offering American Sign Language interpretation services to your Deaf patients, so that they can have the same communication opportunities as your non-deaf patients.

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