Last Sunday, September 23rd, the United Nations announced the first annual International Day of Sign Languages. This might be a crazy statistic to some, but there are roughly 72 million deaf people worldwide. Unfortunately, only 2% are able to receive an education in sign language. That’s where Nyle DiMarco comes in. Nyle DiMarco is a Deaf model and activist, and has been a winner on America’s Next Top Model as well as Dancing With The Stars. During his rise to fame, he had the chance to travel the world and visit Deaf communities from different countries. What he found was very different from his own experience.
Not only has sign language been historically shunned by hearing communities, but it wasn’t until recently that information was released showing that learning sign language along with oral languages is found to help with language acquisition. So it’s no surprise that globally, Deaf communities struggle with learning their language. Thankfully, organizations like the Nyle DiMarco Foundation and the World Bank’s Intergenerational Deaf Education Outreach Project are working to change that and introduce programs to teach Deaf children and their families sign language and prevent millions of people from growing up without a language.
With this newfound charge to teach Deaf children sign language, we need to work on making the world a more inclusive space for all people with disabilities. Yes, there is the American Disabilities Act, but it is a fight in itself for the people who need it to even get organizations to be compliant. So what really needs to happen is to introduce a more detailed lesson plan that includes people with disabilities in our public schools. This will then spark a new kind of perspective in able bodied people into the lives of those who are disabled, which will lead to more people actually giving a shit. Because a majority of the time, that’s what gets stuff done, and like it or not, we need privileged people to use that privilege to speak up and take action for those who would not even be able to get their foot in the door in the first place. Companies like Starbucks and Uber are aiming to get more involved in the Deaf community and make it easier for Deaf individuals to take advantage of their resources. If more companies, organizations, or even people attempt to educate themselves and make a difference, even if it’s just learning some basic signs, it would create ripples of change in the world around us.
Chat with you next time,