What is Deaf Awareness Week? Dates, theme, and how you can get involved

·3-min read
Oscar-winning actor Troy Kotsur has spoken about his deafness in the past  (Doug Peters / AP)
Oscar-winning actor Troy Kotsur has spoken about his deafness in the past (Doug Peters / AP)

The annual Deaf Awareness Week is taking place soon, with a leading charity calling on people to get involved to make everyday life more deaf-friendly.

The awareness week aims to highlight how much life changes when you lose your hearing.

People with hearing loss are encouraged to share their stories on social media to help raise awareness of the “unique challenges” they experience.

The annual event is taking place next week, from May 1-7, with an array of events planned to mark the occasion.

What is this year’s theme?

This year, the theme is Access to Communication, with organisers at the UK Council on Deafness saying they want people to realise how being deaf brings “unique challenges that not everyone will experience”.

The aim is to promote greater awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by the deaf community in accessing communication, so they can fully participate in society.

The Deaf Resource Centre site states; “The Deaf community often faces significant barriers to communication, which can lead to social isolation, limited employment opportunities, and reduced access to essential services. These barriers can include a lack of access to sign language interpreters, limited captioning and subtitling in videos and online content, and a general lack of awareness of the communication needs of Deaf individuals.

“To address these issues, this year’s Deaf Awareness Week will focus on raising awareness of the communication needs of the Deaf community and advocating for greater access to communication tools and services. It will encourage individuals, organisations, and governments to work together to create a more inclusive society where Deaf individuals have the same access to communication as their hearing counterparts.”

Hearing experts at Health Assured say that the best thing to do is educate yourself about the challenges faced by people with hearing problems.

On their website, it states: “Many people remain unaware of what life is like for a deaf person and the struggles they face. Familiarise yourself with educational materials and the different types and causes of deafness.

“Find out what adjustments you can make to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. They might be small shifts — but they can make a big difference to the deaf community.”

Other tips they give help people to know how to communicate with someone who is deaf and include speaking normally, and not too quickly or slowly, to smile and relax when talking, keeping your mouth on show so people can lipread, while facing towards the person when you are speaking.

How to get involved in Deaf Awareness Week

This year, people who are deaf or have partial hearing loss are being urged to share their stories on social media while adding the following hashtags: #DAW2023 #DeafAwarenessWeek

It is hoped that, by sharing personal stories, others will realise that a “one size fits all” approach isn’t helpful when someone is deaf, and instead, that no two cases are the same.

People who want to learn more are being encouraged to read through the stories to educate themselves.

The RNID, a charity that supports people who are deaf, says its ultimate aim is to make more people deaf aware, so the world is not shut off for people who cannot hear.

Businesses can sign up to become more inclusive in the workplace to encourage deaf employees here and those wanting to fundraise can look at the volunteering page here.

Runners can even join the ballot to run next year’s London Marathon for the charity.

There are also great resources on the Deaf Resource Centre website.