Did you know that more than 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss because of unsafe listening practices?
We’ve become so used to putting headphones in to escape the real world for a minute (or much longer) that very few of us consider the negative impact our use of audio devices might be having. This is even more important to consider in COVID-19 times, when many of us are conducting our school, work and/or social lives via our laptops, computers and phones more than ever before.
Unfortunately, it is still a very common stereotype to think of those with deafness as the elderly, but this is very far from the truth. In fact, 1 in 6 people in the UK is deaf or hard of hearing.
As the name suggests, Deaf Awareness Week was begun to draw people’s attention to those living with deafness, whether it is congenital or acquired. The week was established to promote the positive aspects of living with deafness, as well as encouraging a culture of inclusion – and if the past year has taught us anything, it is that we can all benefit from coming together.
This year, Deaf Awareness Week will take place between the 4th and 9th of May, and there are lots of ways you can get involved.
1. Host events
Are you part of a group that regularly holds talks and lectures, like the WI or a further education organisation? The UK Council on Deafness encourages you to arrange communication support (for example, a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter or a Speech to Text system) for an event taking place during this week. You could then reach out to your local deaf organisation and invite them to join you at the event. Alternatively, you could get someone from a UK Council on Deafness member organisation to deliver a talk about their experiences with Deafness. Either way, you’ll be facilitating an accessible knowledge exchange.
2. Get the kids involved
Whether you’re a teacher, youth club leader, parent, librarian or someone else entirely, you can get children involved with Deaf Awareness Week. From a sponsored silence to learning how to finger-spell their name in BSL, there are plenty of ways to educate children about deafness and encourage social inclusion at every age.
3. Educate yourself
You’re never too old to learn something new, so Deaf Awareness Week is the perfect time to research ways you can make sure you’re being as inclusive as possible in your daily life. Maybe you could find a YouTube video that teaches you basic BSL phrases, like this one by The Deaf Academy, or read about the lived experiences of people with deafness, like in this article by Sara Nović. Make sure to share your learning with others, too!
In order to make everywhere and everything as accessible to the deaf community as it is to the hearing community, charities require financial support in order to offer services, adapt existing infrastructures and promote inclusion. Donating doesn’t have to involve setting aside £100 a month in order to make a real difference, though.
Pledjar supports a range of deaf and hard of hearing charities across the UK, which you can support by buying your morning coffee, that outfit you’ve had your eye on or your evening takeaway. By rounding up each of your digital transactions, you can donate your spare change in a lump sum at the end of the month to Deaf Hub, Al Isharah, Sense Scotland and more.
Find out more about Pledjar today.