Spread the Word

For deaf people all over the world, the use of and access to sign language is vital.
With sign language, deaf people can succeed in all areas of life, including education,
employment, and in the personal, public, and political spheres.

Join the #IWD2016 movement.
Advocate for deaf people’s right to sign language and equality.

A Message from WFD

International Week of the Deaf 2016 marks the 65th anniversary of the WFD, the 10th year of the adoption of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda. Help us continue this important work by becoming an effective advocate and creating meaningful change to improve the human rights of deaf people. Check out our ‘Know and Achieve Your Human Rights Toolkit’ to learn more about advocating for human rights.

What is International Week of the Deaf 2016 about? What is its goal? How can you support us? WFD President Colin Allen answers all these questions and more in this introduction video to the International Week of the Deaf 2016 campaign.

Your contribution will go towards the WFD general fund and strengthen the capacity of the WFD Secretariat to reach our action plan goals.

Sign language impacts the lives of deaf people in many different areas. Here are some of the most important reasons why deaf people are truly equal with sign language:

Birth Right

Language acquisition at birth is a basic human right. When deaf children acquire language early, they are able to fully communicate with others and develop valuable cognitive and social skills.
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Deaf Identity

Deaf people belong to a cultural and linguistic community and use sign language as a mother tongue or natural language to communicate.
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Deaf people need access to public information and services through sign language interpreting, subtitling, and/or closed captioning. Without these, deaf people do not have equal access to health care, employment, social welfare, and other important government services.
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Equal Language

Numerous systematic linguistic research reports since the late 1970s have confirmed that sign languages fulfills all features of a language, including their own syntax, morphology, and structure. Sign languages all over the world deserve to be recognized as a valid linguistic means of conveying thoughts, ideas, and emotions.
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Equal Employment Opportunities

With sign language competency and the ability to communicate via accommodations such as sign language interpreters, deaf people can do nearly any job. The main barriers to employment arise from inaccessible work environments rather than the inability to hear.
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Bilingual Education

For many deaf children, the best way to learn is through their natural language, sign language. Research has found that quality bilingual education can lead to improved rates of language acquisition and literacy in deaf children. Bilingual education provides this access, using sign language as the language of instruction in all subjects with a parallel emphasis on teaching reading and writing of the language used in the country or society.
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Equal Participation

Deaf people deserve equal access to participate in the personal, public, and political area as everyone else. More importantly, it must be ensured that deaf people have opportunities to take up leadership roles and be able to appropriately represent their community, advocate for their rights, and be involved in all decision-making processes concerning them.
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Lifelong Learning

Access to education, vocational training, and ongoing professional training and development is key to gaining and keeping a job and earning a wage that allows independent living.
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Take Action

International Week of the Deaf is a unified international movement.
We need your support to spread our message to all corners of the world.
Any action, small or big, will have an impact.

Share International Week of the Deaf Today

There are many ways for you and your organisation to get involved with International Week of the Deaf 2016.
We have listed some ideas below:

Campaign Materials

Unify your local organization with #IWD2016 material

Campaign Materials

Become a Member

Together we can make
a difference



Make a pledge, host an event, start a crowdfunding challenge


About International Week of the Deaf

International Week of the Deaf is the only week in a year that sees highly concerted global advocacy to raise awareness about the deaf community on different levels. It is about gathering together, becoming united, and showing that unity to the rest of the world.

International Week of the Deaf promotes the human rights of deaf people and highlight issues that are significant to the deaf community.

International Week of the Deaf aims to call for unity from the rest of the world through consistent, coordinated, and widespread mobilization to ensure that campaigns are visible through sufficient media coverage.


About WFD

The World Federation of the Deaf was established in Rome, Italy, in 1951, and is an international non-profit and non-governmental organization representing approximately 70 million deaf people’s human rights worldwide. The WFD is a federation of 132 national associations of deaf people. Its membership also comprises of Individual Members, Associate Members, and International Members. It also has eight Regional Secretariats, one Regional Co-operating Member, and a Youth Section (WFDYS). The WFD has a consultative status in the UN system, including the ECOSOC; the UNESCO; the ILO; and the WHO, and co-operates closely with the UN OHCHR. The WFD is a founding member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA).