This week is International Week of Deaf People, a week of celebrating deafness and educating hearing people about Deaf communities in Canada and around the world. This year’s focus centers around building inclusive communities for everyone. This includes learning how to make inclusive sign language environments, legal recognition of national sign languages, creating equal opportunities for all Deaf people, supporting Deaf leadership and ensuring human rights for the Deaf.
September 23rd is the International Day of Sign Language – a day set aside to celebrate, promote and educate people about the variety of sign languages that make up a vibrant and important part of Deaf culture the world over.
Did you know?
- More than 90% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents and less than 10% of these parents learn American Sign Language (ASL)
- There is no single signed language used worldwide. Signed languages, like spoken, develop organically in different areas, with their own slang and regional dialects. There are between 138 and 300 different signed languages in the world today. Here in Canada we have American Sign Language (ASL), la Langue des Signes Quebecoise (LSQ), Maritimes Sign Language (MSL) and Plains Sign Language (PSL), the most well-known Indigenous sign language in Canada and the US.
- In 2019, the Accessible Canada Act recognized “American Sign Language, Quebec Sign Language and Indigenous sign languages…as the primary languages for communication by deaf persons in Canada.” The purpose of the Act is to promote inclusivity in areas such as goods and services industries, transportation and communication technologies.
- ASL is not a physical representation of English. It is a language with its own syntax that uses hand shape, palm orientation, location on the body, movement and facial expression and has its own idioms.
- The best way to learn ASL is from an accredited Deaf instructor who can teach not only the fundamentals of ASL but the important connection the language has to Deaf culture
- Alexander Graham Bell, who once lived in Brantford, ON, and is known as being the inventor of the telephone and an educator of the deaf, is viewed by many in the Deaf community as having a detrimental and lasting impact on Deaf language and culture. Though his mother was deaf and his father taught the deaf, he is not viewed as an ally of the deaf community. This was due to his staunch oralist focus which undermined the importance of signed languages and his support of eugenics (essentially wanting to breed out deafness). His push for all deaf to speak instead of sign is a trauma that is still felt within the Deaf community.
- You can access Gale Course’s online American Sign Language course for free with your WPL card
- Laurie P at our Eastside branch (me!) can communicate in ASL
- WPL has many books to learn about Deaf culture as well as fiction reads with Deaf/Deaf-Blind main characters. Take a look below at some of these resources!
How are you going to celebrate International Week of Deaf People?
For more info: https://wfdeaf.org/iwdeaf2022/