23 September, 2013
Every year, in the last week of September, the world marks International Week of the Deaf and here at CBM we’re joining the celebration!
With around 72 million Deaf people in the world, it’s an important day. It’s about recognising the contributions of Deaf people, celebrating those achievements and accomplishments, and raising awareness of the importance of sign language. This year’s theme is Equality for Deaf People.
To mark this special week, we chatted with two Deaf colleagues to learn more about their experiences working at CBM, as well as their thoughts on the theme Equality for Deaf People.
First, meet Elena Down. Elena is our Senior Technical Advisor in the Inclusive Development Department.
Elena advises our partners on how to ensure their development programs include people with disability – she’s working with organisations like World Vision and Care to help them become more inclusive. She also provides technical advice to AusAID and to government ministries in partner countries to make sure development includes and benefits people with disabilities. Elena says:
“Equality for Deaf people is a human right, but globally Deaf people are often left behind in development progress in terms of access to education, health, employment and broader social inclusion. Deaf people can face barriers to communication and a lack of support for sign language and qualified trained interpreters. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an important statement of rights for deaf people to use in their advocacy to bring about positive change.”
“Importantly, equality for Deaf people includes equality of employment opportunities. Deaf people continue to face many barriers in employment. However CBM Australia does a great job of understanding our access needs, providing sign language interpreters, note-takers, captioned phones and webcams for Skype calls in Auslan or to help lip reading. They are proactive in ensuring that we are growing professionally and building leadership skills.”
And then there’s Philip Waters, one of our Program Officers. Philip looks after our projects in China, Indonesia and the Philippines, and maintains close relationships with partner staff in those countries.
People are often surprised that Philip travels overseas, spending time in the field with our partners there – helping them with all aspects of their work. People wonder how he can communicate in a cross-cultural setting. But Philip makes a huge contribution! Philip explains:
“I take a sign-language interpreter with me and this has the added benefit of building people’s understanding of how to work with Deaf people. Meeting other Deaf people on my travels is a highlight for me to share experiences and learn about challenges”.
- Think further afield: meet Wadud, from Bangladesh who shared his experiences as a Deaf man for our End the Cycle campaign. You can read Wadud’s full story here or get to know him more in this video.
- Share the links with friends and family to get everyone talking about International Week of the Deaf!