International Day of Sign Languages was established in honour of the creation of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in 1951. Since 1958, it has been annually celebrated on the last Sunday in September, preceded by a week of events dedicated to problems of deaf people.
WFH is one of the oldest international organizations that defend the rights of people with disabilities. It includes 125 national associations. It deals with the problems of socialization of citizens “living in silence”, fights for the equality of deaf people and who hears in society.
Deafness is one of the most pressing problems of humanity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 5% of the world’s population (466 million people, including 34 million children) suffers from disabling hearing loss. According to the WHO forecasts, the number of deaf people on the planet will increase and exceed 900 million people by 2050. The main causes of hearing disability are genetics, birth injuries, infections, side effects of medication, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing.
At the same time, modern society still cannot provide conditions for deaf people to live full lives. As a result, a range of human rights is violated, including:
- the right to information – videos, programs and films are not accompanied by subtitles;
- the right to education – the number of secondary specialized and higher educational institutions where deaf people can study is limited;
- the right to work – the number of professions and specialities available for deaf people is also limited.
In addition, there are no sign language interpreters in the staffing tables of socially significant and government institutions, and ordinary employees do not speak sign language even at the entry-level. As a result, a visit to, for example, a polyclinic, a utility company, a bank or a store becomes a test for a deaf person.
On the International Day of Sign Languages, the WFH is calling on to carry out campaigns in all countries to raise awareness among policymakers, authorities, the media and the public about hearing-impaired people. Only together we can make the life of deaf inhabitants of the planet more comfortable and qualitative.