Deaf Awareness Week & Captioning Services

Deaf Awareness Week and Captioning Services

Talking about deafness tends to remind me of Helen Keller, born blind and deaf; but in her silent darkness, every fragment of flower, every ray of the warm sun, every sonorous music, and every unspoken emotion had touched her. Her presence, grace, and creations advocate one thing very clearly, it is just a physiological condition, and they can do anything that normal people can do.

According to estimates, more than 5% or approximately 466 million people across the globe have disabling hearing loss. This is expected to go up further, and by 2050, one in every 10 people will be hearing impaired. The deaf community, though a huge demographic to exclude, is considered a cultural and linguistic minority. The International Week of Deaf is an initiative by the World Federation of the Deaf to understand and embrace the culture and life of those people who approach the world differently. Deaf Awareness Week is celebrated annually in the last week of September. The special activities of that week come to a close the following Sunday, which is celebrated as International Day of Sign Languages or IDSL.

The key purpose of the Deaf awareness week is to increase public awareness about the life of deaf people and their culture and the issues they face in their day-to-day life. To increase awareness, multiple activities and events take place throughout the week to encourage individuals and communities to join hands to break the barrier. The primary intention behind making the week eventful is to understand their culture, heritage, their language, promoting rights, recognizing their work and achievement, and spreading awareness about the types, degrees, and causes of hearing loss among people.

Advancement in deaf education has made tremendous progress over the past few decades and has empowered them regardless of the nation they belong to. Though there has been a significant advancement in the field of deaf education, there continue to be challenges that need to be addressed.

With the civil rights law of the ADA and Section 508 mandating all federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities, captioning services gained prominence and has expanded since then. Though considered a luxury at one point, captions have now become a necessity as it removes barriers to communication and improves awareness amongst the general public. Materials pertaining to entertainment, education, information, and training are captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing audiences the time they are distributed. This helps them understand the content better, as it helps describe every piece of the audio/video element.

Bringing this week under limelight helps the common people understand that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are as capable as those who are normal. They are not disabled. They just do communicate differently and we all need to embrace that difference compassionately.