INTERNATIONAL WEEK OF THE DEAF PEOPLE FROM 20TH TO 26TH SEP 2021-HOMA BAY COUNTY.
This year’s theme for the International Week of Deaf People was “Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities”. Deaf communities have been expanding and thriving throughout the years and giving us all strength, then it was the high time to celebrate their incredible endurance at the local, national and international level.
International Week of the Deaf People is an important week for the recognition of deaf people, it is vital for deaf communities and deaf organizations. This falls under the key principle, “Nothing about us, without us!”.
The Council in collaboration with other stake holders takes this celebration to Homa-Bay County, under the following themes which resonates very well with the SDGs rallying call of Leaving No One Behind.
Day 1 Theme: Cherishing Deaf History
Deaf communities and our sign languages have existed for several centuries. The Deaf awareness week gave us chance to cherish the proud histories of deaf peoples and our thriving communities, and the many people, deaf, codas, allies, who have worked together to enable the flourishing communities found today around the world.
Day 2 Theme: Sustainable Deaf Leadership
The Second day of Day of International Week of the Deaf People, we came together to recognize that deaf people have their communities, own cultures, own languages, sign languages, which unite all of us.
The Council in collaboration with other stakeholders organized a leadership forum with Deaf Communities in Homa-Bay County where Deaf people shared personal experiences on leadership and governance the Chief Guest was Ashura Michael who is Director Board of Directors National Council for Persons with Disabilities.
Director Ashura encouraged Deaf people to be aggressive and take the advantage of the many opportunities available for persons with disabilities in both government programs and NGO world.
Day 3 Theme: Sign Languages for all Deaf Learners
This theme resonates very well with the rallying call for sustainable development goals of leaving no one behind.
Acquisition of sign language from birth from fluent sign language models is critical to social development of deaf children. A strong foundational language is necessary to learn other languages. As many deaf children are born into families who are not yet sign language users, services must be in place to provide sign language learning and support to families so that they can become fluent sign language users.
The convention clearly states under article 24 that parties should facilitate the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community. Persons with Disability Act No 14 of 2003 states that persons with disabilities are entitled to a barrier free society this are critical articles to implement for deaf learners to be able to interact freely and have an equal opportunity in the learning environment.
The Council in collaboration with other partners organized a sensitization forum in Homa Bay County to emphasize the importance of incorporating sign language at homes and learning institutions, to ensure deaf learners can participate and perform better in education.
The Guest for this day was MCA representing persons with disabilities Homa Bay County.
Day 4 Theme: We Sign for Human Rights!
The Council in Collaboration with other partners celebrated the collective efforts from deaf communities, governments, and civil society representatives who recognize and promote the different national sign languages around the world in Homa Bay County.
Together we sign onto a declaration of support for sign languages as an essential human right for deaf people, and sign for human rights.
The Convention reorganizes that to enable deaf people’s access to quality and barrier free services on an equal basis with others in the communities they live, states should facilitate the learning of Sign Language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the Deaf Community.
The Day Chief guest was Homa Bay first lady her excellency Rocila Awiti. The first lady encouraged all persons with disabilities especially the Deaf in Homa Bay to take advantage of programs offered with the County governments to raise their living standards she also presented assorted give aways to participants. In attendance was MCA representing Persons with Disabilities Homa County.
Day 5 Theme: “Intersectional Deaf Communities”
Intersectional Deaf Communities” is the theme for today’s International Week of the Deaf People.
Intersectionality means framework for understanding how social and political identities combine to create experiences of discrimination and privilege, and can include aspects such as gender, sex, race, disability, sexuality, religion and language.
There is an interesting intersectionality for Deaf communities in being both a cultural-language group and members of disability populations.
This intersectionality is highlighted in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that outlines disability rights and linguistic and cultural rights for deaf people.
The Disability Act also highlights that no person shall be discriminated on the basis of their gender, disability, religion or race.
The Council organized a media dialogue in Homa Bay County to highlight the gaps and opportunities available for persons with disabilities and the deaf in particular in the County level and nationally.
The forum was graced by Council Chairperson Peter Muchiri, other attendees included TSC Homa County director, County Commissioner representative, representatives from the County government office, DPOs among others.
Day 6″Deaf Culture and arts.”
People regularly come together to share their language and culture. Deaf culture involves the behaviours, traditions, beliefs, values, history, humour, art that exists within Deaf communities.
Deaf communities are proud of their linguistic and cultural identity and celebrate that regularly in many different ways. To enable us appreciate and celebrate this we focused on a success story of Boniface Okutoyi a carpenter and interior designer who is a deaf person featured on NTV-news.
Day 7 Human Rights in time of crisis
The past year has shown us new needs and new ways of guaranteeing the well-being of deaf people in situations of crisis. Under the circumstance of different crises, including infectious diseases, climate change, natural disasters, and armed conflict, deaf people all over the world experience language deprivation, socioeconomic disadvantages, and audism. Today, we emphasize the importance of securing and maintaining the human rights of all deaf people during the different, multiple, and overlapping crises.
Homa-Bay county has high potentials of improving welfare of persons with disabilities because of the big number of civil societies and NGOs available in the region.
The Council need more of such activities for sensitization and awareness creation.
Planning need to be done early enough to be able to reach more stakeholders on time.
County governments especially Homa-Bay county needs to be involved so that they can be fully engaged on such events.
The International Week of the Deaf is celebrated through various activities by Deaf Communities all around the world. These activities and events welcome the participation of all members of deaf communities, which include families of deaf people, professional and accredited sign language interpreters, peers, as well as the involvement of various stakeholders such as national governments, national and international human rights organizations, and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities.