Last month, hundreds of deaf organizations came together to celebrate the rich and varied nature of sign language around the world. The International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf) is an initiative of the World Federation of the Deaf and was first launched in 1958. It’s a week we’ve looked forward to and celebrated since its inception.
This year on September 23, the UN officially recognized an International Day of Sign Languages, which was celebrated for the first time as part of the International Week of the Deaf. To mark these celebrations we have produced a detailed guide for organizations large and small who work with deaf children in developing countries.
For deaf children, sign language is crucial
Language and communication are vital in every-day life. They are crucial in allowing us to develop social and emotional well-being as well as to negotiate and learn. It is essential to have a good command of a first language in order to be able to learn to read and write.
This language can be spoken or signed, and for the vast majority of the deaf children that Deaf Child Worldwide works with in developing countries, sign language is a vital means of communication and is most often their first language.
Just as with spoken languages, different countries have their own distinct and unique forms of sign language. For millions of deaf children, sign language is crucial for communication, for being able to make friends, for learning at school, and for telling their friends and family how their day went. It is an essential part of life.
Not having a fluent language can have devastating results. Deaf children fall behind at school as they can’t understand their teacher. They struggle to find a job because of their lack of education. This is completely unacceptable when we know that given the right support, deaf children can achieve as well as their hearing peers.