This week (22-28 September) marks the International Week of the Deaf. This week is an opportunity for deaf people, people with hearing loss and people in general to raise awareness and understanding about what it means to have any form of hearing impairment.
Deafness can affect anyone, young or old, rich or poor, and it has numerous causes and can have different degrees of severity. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are in excess of 360 million people worldwide who have some form of disabling hearing loss – in the UK the figure is close to 10 million people.
Although deafness and hearing loss affect people in different ways, there are common elements throughout. These, however, are generally less to do with the deaf person themselves than with the people around them. Throughout the world, and the UK is no exception, the levels of awareness and understanding about deafness among the general public are woefully poor. By people not understanding or not being aware of deafness, this increases the likelihood of deaf people being isolated and therefore marginalised.
The theme of the International Week of the Deaf this year is based around human dignity. This links strongly to the belief that human and civil rights are universal and people should not be marginalised, or discriminated against, for any reason.
Signal’s work highlights, and addresses, some of this discrimination and marginalisation, by working not only with deaf people and those with hearing loss, but also with other people, organisations and government bodies throughout the community and society. We believe that information and awareness about deafness and hearing loss should not be confined to any individuals and that society as a whole has a responsibility to understand, or at least acknowledge, the differences and needs of all of its members.
Signal applauds its partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries and we make a pledge to continue to work towards a more equitable society. This means a society where deafness and hearing loss are not used to isolate people, but where people are included and encouraged to play a full and active role in their families, communities and society.