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In 2013, CBM participated in 113 livelihood projects, helping 123,742 people around the world.
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International Week of the Deaf 2011

Two deaf men communicating using sign language at a conference; behind them there is a CBM poster
George Otieno Osawa (left), a teacher of deaf people in Kenya, talking to an interested participant at the CBM stand with during the 16th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in South Africa, July 2011

CBM celebrates International Week of the Deaf - the last full week of September - which is an opportunity to promote the human rights of deaf people through events, marches, campaigns and meetings.

Raising awareness

In 2011, International Week of the Deaf is celebrated from 19 to 25 September. During this week, deaf associations throughout the world organise events, marches, campaigns and meetings to highlight topics that they wish to be addressed by local or national authorities.

The aim is to direct the attention of decision makers, general public and media to the problems and concerns deaf persons face. Read more below, including thoughts from several CBM people worldwide.

Some issues faced by deaf people

Latest figures say that more than 275 million people have moderate to profound hearing impairment, and 80% of these live in low and middle-income countries (World Health Organization - WHO). Challenges faced by these people include:

What CBM is doing in response

In 2010 CBM, with partners worldwide, distributed/repaired 19,000 hearing aids, performed 9,500 ear operations and assisted more than 13,000 deaf children in education programmes. 32,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing were in CBM-supported CBR programmes in 2010, an increase of 17% on 2009.

CBM is:

What you can do

  • With friends or family, learn the sign language of your country and befriend deaf people
  • Consult with  the deaf people you meet and ensure they understand you (through speaking clearly, gesturing, using sign language, or using pen and paper)
  • Contact your national or local 'association of the deaf', and attend the International Week of Deaf people celebrations that are being held near you
  • Support CBM by donating to the CBM nearest you

From Philip Waters, Program Services Officer, CBM Australia

A man writing on a whiteboard about deafness ©CBM
Philip Waters running a workshop in Melbourne, Australia
Philip Waters is a Program Services Officer in the International Programmes Department of CBM Australia. In this role he supports and works closely with the program officers on monitoring and reporting of our partner programmes in Africa. One day a week, he is an Information and Training Officer at the CBM-Nossal Partnership, providing training on Disability Inclusive Development, in particular on Disabled People’s Organisations. In this role, he also works closely with the Inclusive Development department at CBM developing tools on measuring inclusive disability engagement of Australian based INGOs. Philip says:

"Personally, to me, the day is a means to celebrate people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.

"We look forward to the fourth week of September each year and we in Australia celebrate this with various events such as festivals, marches, workshops and theatre shows and more.

"The day is an opportunity for all to reflect on the unique experiences and communication skills of deaf people."

From Murielle Bertrand, Administrator, CBM EU LO, Belgium

Murielle Bertrand
Murielle is in charge of administration at CBM's European Union Liaison Office in Brussels, Belgium. She also participates in awareness-raising activities connected with deafness and reports here on what is happening to celebrate International Week of the Deaf in the French-speaking region of her home country.

"Here in Belgium there are different activities and events planned to raise awareness of deafness.  These will include mime animations, a conference and a sign language workshop. They are being organised by the 'Fédération Francophone des Sourds de Belgique' (French Federation of the Deaf Belgium) and other relevant associations in the town of Verviers and will culminate in a day-long celebration - including a procession - on 24 September.

"The object is to educate and inform people about the world of deafness; to help them to recognise the challenges faced by deaf people, and to facilitate communication."

From Sian Tesni, Senior Education Advisor, based in Wales

A woman and a boy talking in sign language ©CBM
Sian signing with one of the deaf children at Fulton School for the Deaf, Durban, July 2011
Sian Tesni is a specialist teacher in the field of hearing impairment and co-ordinates the CBM Advisory Working Group in the education of people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind.

On the challenges:
There are tremendous challenges in making education truly accessible to all people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind, but inroads are being made through the work of people in the field, including deaf and deafblind teachers themselves.

The key to this development is the development of communication services according to individual needs at all levels of service delivery and particularly within the family.

On the future:
My hope for the future is that we see more people with disabilities, particularly those who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind themselves in the driving seat of inclusive development.

Of course we need a balance of expertise, and we need to attract committed people. We are in the business of enabling people to be their own advocates, however for as long as we are needed; it’s good to walk the path together. Knowing when to assist or intervene and when to enable is a fine line. Encouraging people with commitment and vision is a challenge wherever we live in the world.

My hope is that we support the developments that people who are deaf / hard of hearing or deafblind want for themsleves.

From Nigeria

Young children in school in Africa ©CBM
Deaf children from the Demonstration school for Deaf Children acting 'How do we learn sign language at school?'
In Nigeria, International Week of the Deaf 2011 was jointly celebrated by CBM and the National Association of the Deaf. This was an opportunity to point out the importance of the human rights of people with hearing impairments and deaf children in particular.

Learn more about deafness and CBM's work in this field

World Federation of the Deaf Congress

In July 2011, CBM - with partners - attended the 16th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in Durban


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