Most of us, myself included, are hearing individuals instead of deaf. So, we may not give a lot of thought to the important cause Deaf Awareness Month and Week celebrates. But there are a few things we can do to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week as a hearing person and bring awareness to the amazing people it represents.
But first, let’s learn a few facts about Deaf Awareness Week…
When is Deaf Awareness Week and Deaf Awareness Month?
Did you know… September is International Deaf Awareness Month? And the last full week of September is International Week of the Deaf, also known as Deaf Awareness Week? Now you have a new holiday to mark on your calendar!
Why do we celebrate Deaf Awareness Week?
This special time celebrates deaf history and culture and the achievements of deaf people through a different theme each year. Events and activities bring together the whole deaf community, which includes both deaf and hearing-impaired people. And this week raises awareness for the organizations and churches that support them.
What is the color of the Deaf Awareness Ribbon?
The color of the Deaf Awareness ribbon is gold and silver.
When was Deaf Awareness Week first founded?
The answer to this question seems to vary depending on who you ask. So, I’ll give you both answers.
International Week of the Deaf was first founded in 1958 in Rome, Italy, and was celebrated during the last week of September each year.
And in the United States, Deaf History Month started in 1996 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. When two deaf employees working at the library decided to teach their co-workers sign language. Later the library created Deaf Awareness Week as we know it today.
Why is Deaf Awareness Important?
The deaf community is bigger than just those with complete deafness. It includes people who have total hearing loss, some hearing loss, and those who use hearing aids or cochlear implants to allow them to hear.
The rights of deaf people are vastly overlooked by the hearing world. But they need equal access to the same things we do. You know, all of the little things that add up and make our everyday life a little easier. And this day of awareness is the perfect time for us, the hearing community to focus on them for a change.
Now that we know the facts about this special time, let’s see how we can celebrate Deaf Awareness Week as a hearing person.
First, can we agree as Christians, that it’s important for us to show the love of Jesus to everyone we meet? I thought you’d be on board for that one! 😊
And second, let’s agree that each and every person on the planet is created in God’s image and is extremely important to Him. I know you’ll agree to that one too!
But here’s where it gets a little dicey, ya’ll.
Most hearing people ignore the deaf.
I’ve never understood why.
Maybe it’s a fear of looking foolish, an overwhelming feeling of awkwardness, worrying that we won’t be able to overcome the language barrier and understand the other person, or a million other excuses we come up with on the fly.
Whatever the true reason is, it’s not okay to treat people like they’re invisible.
That’s not how Jesus treated us when we needed a Savior. And it’s not how He wants us to treat anyone else, whether they’re hearing or deaf.
My personal story with American Sign Language
When I was growing up, I had the chance to witness how the deaf are treated first-hand.
My best friend’s parents were both deaf. They were great people, loving, kind, and would do anything for their kids and their kid’s friends.
I loved spending time with their family. Her mom had a gentleness about her and a real knack for making me feel welcome and special. That was a big part of why I loved being with them, because who doesn’t want to feel special, right?
Plus, I loved watching my friend sign for her mom. It was awesome! And it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with American Sign Language or ASL in the first place. Those childhood memories still hold a special place in my heart. They always will.
But there was a dark side to those times too. I remember how the other moms treated my friend’s mom. They chose not to see the loving, sweet person she was. To them, she was an outsider, someone to shun and toss aside at football games and PTA meetings. All because she was deaf.
Thankfully, my mom taught me better. Not by her words, but by her actions. She loved my friend’s mom with the love of Jesus. So, she made a point of sitting with her at those football games, buddying up with her at PTA meetings, and writing notes back and forth with her for hours. Basically, just being the kind of friend, we all want to have. Not because she had to, but because she wanted to.
That doesn’t seem like such a big deal, does it? But to someone who is ignored on a regular basis, being treated like a friend instead of an outcast can mean all the difference in the world.
This story plays out in my mind whenever I’m with someone who is deaf. Because no matter what I may feel on the inside (fear, anxiety, not measuring up when it comes to my sign language skills), I never want to treat someone the way my friend’s sweet mother was treated.
And I’m sure as a loving follower of Christ, you feel the same way too!
So, let’s look at my Top Tips about How to Celebrate Deaf Awareness Week as a Hearing Person.
#1 Show the love of Jesus
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
If we’ve learned anything from following Jesus, it’s to open our hearts to different kinds of people and to show His love to all of them. That includes the deaf. And this week’s celebration of deaf culture is the perfect time to give it a go.
Don’t worry, even as part of the hearing community, it’s not hard to follow this command from Jesus. And it’s even okay if you don’t know sign language. You can still talk to someone who is deaf in other ways. Most can read lips, but if they can’t, all you need to do is pull out your phone and use the text function. Super simple. 😊
Remember, it’s about showing the love of Jesus to someone who needs Him in their life. So, when all else fails, a big smile and a little kindness go a long way!
#2 Donate to Deaf Charities
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Whether it’s our money, time, or talent, we all have something to give and deaf communities are in great need.
Maybe you’ll never cross paths with someone who is deaf. But you can still make a difference in the life of someone who needs Jesus.
Wycliffe Bible estimates that only 2% of deaf people worldwide have “heard” of Jesus. That’s a sad number, and one we as Christians shouldn’t forget about.
God has blessed us with so much, Amen?! In return, He asks us to give of ourselves for His glory. So, please consider donating to a charity that is making an impact on the deaf community for Christ.
Here are a few worthy candidates to think about…
Google your local group or deaf church, because they are always in dire need of funds and volunteers.
This amazing organization is working to translate the Bible into every sign language. Yes, there’s more than one! And the people who know sign language as their first language need these translations ASAP.
Both church planting and Bible translation are at the heart of DOOR’s ministry. They believe in a “Deaf reaching Deaf for Christ” philosophy that is evident in their outreach to the deaf community worldwide.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
1 John 5:14-15
Prayer is our most precious resource in a world that doesn’t understand the love of Jesus. And we can have complete confidence that when we pray God not only listens, He responds. It’s the single greatest thing we can do for those who are not saved, including deaf individuals. And as we already know prayer is a game changer!
So, set aside some time during this special week to pray for the 98% of deaf people who don’t know Jesus as their Savior.
Ask God to give them an understanding of who He is and how much He loves them. And pray for God to meet their needs far above all we could ask or comprehend.
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Master’s Hand Collection brings the artistry of sign language and the truth of God’s hand reaching down from heaven to save us into sharp focus. When you purchase art from Master’s Hand Collection, 10% of all profits are donated to one of the charities mentioned above.
Currently, I’m donating to a local deaf church, Bethel Deaf Fellowship. And you can too by clicking on the link. 😉
And most of all, you can be sure I’m in the fight right along with you to bring the love of Jesus to the deaf community. Every. Single. Day!
Together, let’s face the fear and awkwardness of sharing the gospel with the deaf community. And jump straight into the fire knowing these wonderful people need Jesus too.
Because that’s how to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week as a hearing person the right way!