September is International Deaf Awareness Month: How to Engage With The Deaf Community

Published on: September 23, 2020

Did you know that September is International Deaf Awareness Month?

The month of September is considered an international celebration of the deaf community, and the last week of the month is known as “International Week of the Deaf” (IWDeaf). Each year throughout September, organizations in countries around the globe get involved in ways to celebrate those who are deaf and help spread awareness of issues the deaf community faces. 

If you are new to International Deaf Awareness Month, or celebrate it every year, here are some good ways to get involved!

National Statistics About Deaf Impairments

You probably know more people in the deaf community than you may be aware of. In fact, 1 in 20 people in the United States are currently considered deaf or hard of hearing. Population-wise, nearly 10,000,000 persons are hard of hearing and close to 1,000,000 are functionally deaf.

Here are some other quick facts about hearing impairments from the National Institute on Deafness And Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD):

  • Nearly 3 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born with a detectable hearing impairment in one or both ears.
  • More than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents.
  • Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.
  • Among adults aged 20-69, the overall annual prevalence of hearing loss dropped slightly from 16 percent (28.0 million) in the 1999-2004 period to 14 percent (27.7 million) in the 2011–2012 period.
  • Age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among adults aged 20-69, with the greatest amount of hearing loss in the 60 to 69 age group.
  • It’s almost twice as likely for men to have hearing loss than women among adults aged 20-69.
  • Non-Hispanic white adults are more likely than adults in other racial/ethnic groups to have hearing loss; on the other hand, non-Hispanic black adults have the lowest rates of hearing loss among adults aged 20-69.

History of Deaf Awareness Month

International Dead Awareness Month was first started as a single-day event. The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), an international, non-governmental organization of national associations of deaf people, started the first International Day of the Deaf in 1958. Since then, many countries, such as the United States, celebrate International Week of the Deaf as the last week of September and commemorate the rest of the month to highlight the deaf community. 

This year, the World Federation of the Deaf encourages people to celebrate International Week of the Deaf by focusing on the 2020 theme of Human Rights through Sign Languages. This theme focuses attention to the cultural achievements of deaf people as well as highlight opportunities for greater progress to promote the rights of deaf people throughout the world.

Ways You Can Spread Deaf Awareness

There are many different ways to celebrate the deaf community during this time.  The types of events may vary depending on your area, but they may include:

  • Awareness events and public information campaigns 
  • Displays, exhibit booths, and information tables at a local health center, community center, pool, club house, or park
  • Interpreted story hours at libraries
  • Open houses in schools that have deaf/ hard-of-hearing programs or at facilities that offer educational and community resources
  • Events at churches provided by deaf ministry programs
  • Public sign language lessons or courses 
  • Events with guest speakers, workshops, or panel discussions
  • Film screenings about significant deaf people in history
  • Sign language concerts or performances
  • Games and other community entertainment events

According to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), past deaf awareness events across the country have included performing artists, lectures, art exhibits, film festivals, and historical exhibits!  

How Can Deafness Qualify For Disability Benefits

Do deaf disability benefits exist?

Yes! For adults with hearing impairments, it’s possible to qualify for disability benefits. Adult hearing loss is addressed in Listing 2.00: Special Senses And Speech.

If you’re an adult with cochlear implants, you will automatically be considered eligible for disability benefits and receive benefits for one year after the cochlear implant surgery. After one year, your benefits will be reevaluated; if you score a 60% or less word recognition score on a “Hearing in Noise Test,” your disability benefits will be extended. 

If you’re an adult without cochlear implants applying for deaf disability benefits, then you must meet one of two tests: 

Air and Bone Conduction Audiometry 

Air conduction audiometry is an effective method to measure everyday hearing ability. If your average threshold for air conduction in your better ear is 90 decibels or worse and your bone conduction hearing threshold in the same ear is 60 decibels or more, then you’ll qualify for benefits.

Word Recognition Test

Or, you can also qualify for benefits if you are unable to repeat more than 40% of words spoken using a phonetically balanced list of words.

Remember, you’re living with a hearing impairment that may qualify for deaf disability benefits and applying for the first time or filing an appeal, contact the Disability Experts of Florida. Applications can be difficult, so we will work with you through the application process to get you the support - and the disability benefits - that you deserve!


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