Do Do For Deaf Awareness Week? 7 Ways to Celebrate

Posted by: Staff Writer on Sept. 24, 2012

As Dolly Parton said: If you’ve got it, flaunt (well, celebrate) it! The end of September always means leaves turning red, the kids going back to school … and highlighting deaf people, their accomplishments, their issues, and of course their language.

First, a little history: Deaf Awareness Week began 1951, during the first meeting of the World Congress of the Deaf. Imagine deaf internationals gathering in Rome and Italy, noshing cucina italiana and gnocci while discussing issues like deaf education, sign language, accessibility, and so forth. None of them would have been checking their iPhones, because there wasn’t  Internet yet. But as we get more digitally connected, DAW is changing over the years too.

This year, we were dissapointed to learn there are no organized DAW events in our flagship city of Seattle. In 2007, Seattle Central Community College kicked off DAW in October. There were many "do dos," ranging from a kickoff at Jillians, to Deaf Queer Coffee House, to an Emergency Preparedness Workshop at Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center. But if you look closely, there’s PLENTY going on the next few weeks (though it may not be under the DAW label).

All 365 days of the year is an opportunity to spread deaf-awareness! Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Got an opinion about how a local business treats you and your deaf friends? Write a consumer review. During this week, the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) encourages schools, businesses, and communities to educate the public about deafness and the issues facing deaf people. Make it a point to review a business (or two, or five) that deserve our attention.
  2. Don’t be shy – be an advocate (even if only for a day). Are you a people-pleasing wallflower who pretends to hear mumbled sentences and lets businesses get away with the “can’t afford interpreter” excuse? This is a good week to break that habit. Make it clear that your bionic implant doesn’t make you a hearing person any more than a Halloween costume makes you a Grim Reaper or a fairy princess.
  3. Attend Paddy Ladd’s “Deafhood and Deaf Pedagogy” lecture:  This international Deaf scholar, researcher, writer and activist from University of Bristol’s Centre for Deaf Studies is coming to Seattle again. Want to learn more about the powerful concept of “Deafhood”? Don’t miss his talk on September 24th from 6:45 to 8:30 located in Seattle at University of Washington’s Kane Hall 120.
  4. Hang out at your local library. Got a yearning to discuss the twists and turns (or shades of grey) you’ve been reading? You’ll want to attend the ASL Book Group in Seattle on Sept. 29 from 10:30-12:30 pm (contact for more details). Also, Deaf Spotlight and Library Equal Access Program are hosting the Iranian deaf film “Mourning” at Central library Saturday, October 6 from 1:30–3:30 pm.  
  5. Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! Got an old T-Shirt from your college days at Gallaudet, RIT, or CSUN? What a great time to dig it out and sport both school pride + deaf cred. Talk to people about your alma mater and why the librarian never scolded y’all to hush.
  6. Act locally, think globally: Though sign language varies from country to country, the experience of being deaf is somewhat universal among us. So, get involved with national celebration efforts, like Sorenson VRS’ “Making a Difference” theme for Deaf Awareness Month. These guys are so passionate, it’s not just a week – it’s for an entire month!
  7. Lend a helping hand(s): Volunteer! Want to learn how to staff the after-hours crisis hotline, empower victims with information and referrals? Just in time for Deaf Awareness Week, the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services is offering fall advocate training from September to November. Contact Rhonda Cochran ( for more info. Are you an Interpreter Training Program (ITP) student? There's many, many places that need volunteer interpreting - such as churches, Cub Scouts, family reunions, and budget-cramped small businesses. Let them know you’re up for a chance to lend a hand (well, two) to the community!

Who knows, maybe you already do all of the above, all the time. If so, excellent – you have mastered the DAY (Deaf Awareness Year)!

Always keep thinking of how to educate others about your uniqueness and your culture. Maybe it means explaining that you use video relay to call your doctor. Or sharing signs for cultural slang, like “258” (check 258 News for a hint about what this means) and “do do”. Also, keep your eyes open and hands a-fluttering when it comes to the heated topic of the recent season: Election year. By following politics that affect us, you can become a well-informed ambassador of Deaf Culture. 

You know what it means to be deaf-friendly, but what does it mean to be deaf-aware? We have an oft-misunderstood culture, so this is the time to stand proud.


Comment Policy

We’re aware that issues facing the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing Community can become quite passionate and divided. What can we say, we’re a group of passionate people! While we fully support a community full of passion, we also require that comments are respectful. We think negative attitudes and disrespect are a waste of everyone’s time and energy. This doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with people, you just need to do it respectfully. We reserve the right to delete or edit any comments we feel are judgmental, rude, or of attacking nature.


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