PRESS RELEASE: Deaf Awareness Week / International Week of the Deaf

IWD Logo

The Disability Empowerment Center & DEC Interpreters celebrate Deaf Awareness Week / International Week of the Deaf with a picnic and meet & greet.

Deaf Awareness Week – also known as the International Week of the Deaf (IWD) – is celebrated internationally, annually and ends with the International Day of the Deaf. This year’s IWD will be held from September 19 – 25th and will end with the International Day of the Deaf on Sunday, September 26th.

The International Week of the Deaf focuses on advocacy to raise awareness about the deaf community at an individual, community and governmental level.  It is about gathering together, becoming united and showing unity to the rest of the world.  

The theme of IWD this year is “With Sign Language – I am Equal” and focuses on the following points:

  • Birth Right: Deaf children need access to sign language from birth.
  • Deaf Identity:  Identifies deaf people as belonging to a cultural and linguistic community, who use sign language as a mother tongue or natural language to communicate.
  • Advocacy: Deaf people need access to public information and services via sign language interpreting, subtitling, and/or close-captioning.
  • Equal Language: Recognises sign language as a valid linguistic means of conveying thoughts, ideas, and emotions. It is a fully operating language with its own syntax, morphology and structure.
  • Equal Employment: Deaf people can do almost any job. The main barriers to employment arise from inaccessible work environments rather than an inability to hear.
  • Bilingual Education: Urges stakeholders to accept the need for bilingual education for a deaf child and to understand how quality bilingual education should be provided in a sign language environment.
  • Equal Participation: Deaf people need to have equal access of participation in the personal, public and political area as everybody else.
  • Lifelong Learning: Access to education, vocational training, and ongoing professional training and development, is key to gaining and retaining a job and earning a wage that allows independent living.

The Disability Empowerment Center and DEC Interpreters will celebrate IWD with a week of social and media updates promoting this year’s theme of “With Sign Language – I am Equal.”  Then we’ll conclude the week with a picnic and meet & greet at Long’ s Park on Monday, September 27th.

Our Deaf Awareness Week Picnic at Long’s Park will be an opportunity for not only the local Deaf population but the entire local community, to learn more about the Disability Empowerment Center, the DEC Interpreters program (providing ASL interpreters for the community) and the services we provide.

The picnic will be held on Monday, September 26th from 3pm to 6pm at Longs Park, Pavillion #2.

This is a free event open to all.  ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreters will be provided, as well as food and drinks.  There will be an opportunity for a question and answer session and to meet DEC staff and Interpreters.


About the Disability Empowerment Center: The Disability Empowerment Center is the Center for Independent Living serving Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. DEC is a private, nonprofit, nonresidential organization run by and for people with disabilities. We dedicate our efforts to breaking through the barriers to Independent Living.

About DEC Interpreters:  The Disability Empowerment Center (DEC) offers licensed, certified American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters and Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) for hire for the deaf and hard of hearing, their families and the community at large. Our interpreters work with performing arts venues, conference facilities, schools, courts, hospitals, colleges, state and county government, mental health agencies, and all types of businesses.

About the International Week of the Deaf: It is an initiative of the WFD and was first launched in 1958 in Rome, Italy. It is celebrated annually by the global Deaf Community on the last week of September to commemorate the same month the first World Congress of the WFD was held.  IWD is celebrated through various activities by the respective Deaf Communities worldwide.  These activities call for participation and involvements of various stakeholders including  families, peers, governmental bodies, professional sign language interpreters, and DPOs.