Karachi, Sindh – The last week of September is a historic week for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, when the International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf) is celebrated, along with 23rd September being the International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL).
In light of this special observance, ConnectHear arranged a series of collaborative webinars and initiated discussions on the inclusion of the Deaf and the importance of sign language accessibility.
A week-long Deaf and Sign Language Awareness digital campaign was launched to kickstart the week of the deaf. As a part of the general campaign, a Sign With Us video challenge was made public. The interactive challenge called for people to do signs of particular words within 15 seconds, through which hundreds of people from the deaf community and hearing community were able to engage with each other.
During the week of the Deaf, ConnectHear produced an emotive Dear Hearing People video campaign. The video showed a few Deaf and hard of hearing people sending a message to all hearing people of Pakistan to listen to them in sign language. The response can be exhibited in the tens of thousands of views they have gotten on the video. The video can be found here.
On 23rd September, Aliya and Saqib, ConnectHear’s Lead Sign Language Trainers, were distinguished speakers on a virtual program by Lincoln Corners to speak on the importance of sign language awareness in hearing communities and the availability of sign language interpreters. Additionally, ConnectHear and Special Olympics Pakistan (SOP) joined hands to conduct an internal sign language awareness training session, which set a precedent for other sport organisations to be inclusive and accepting of Deaf athletes and their language. ConnectHear, in collaboration with The Kaizen Group, also put together a two-day workshop to teach the basics of Pakistani Sign Language (PSL) to a group of driven hearing participants.
For the first time, a mental health awareness session by Relivenow was made accessible for the Deaf through ConnectHear’s interpretation services, and an international webinar of Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) on youth empowerment was able to weigh in Deaf young voices using ConnectHear’s Co-Founder.
The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPD) hosted a celebratory program for the International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL). Mr. Parvez Ahmed Seehar, the Secretary to Government of Sindh in Department of Culture, Tourism & Antiquities; Syed Qassam Naveed Qamar, MNA; Additional Secretary Mr. Jalauddin; and several other prominent government officials were present and guided the discussion on recognising PSL as an official language in Sindh. ConnectHear was honoured to have interpreted for the Deaf audience in sign language there.
Believing in the notion that equal opportunities should be for all, on 25th September, ConnectHear participated in the event hosted by Media Deaf Interpreter (MDI) and discussed the struggles that the deaf face due to a lack of services and facilities available in sign language. ConnectHear also sponsored an event of the MDI Women faction, in which more than 30 Deaf women leaders participated. The program served as an empowering force for the women to confront their unique societal experiences.
To mark the end of International Week of the Deaf, in connection with Danishkadah, Media Deaf Interpreter (MDI), and the Pakistani Deaf Community, ConnectHear acted as the interpreting force in the public awareness walk. Hundreds of Deaf community members and advocates in Karachi marched from People Square to the Press Club and took a stand for the realisation of their human rights, and awareness of their rich cultural diversity, heritage, and language.
ConnectHear is proud to have been one of the national leading voices who opened public discussions on Deaf inclusion, sign language accessibility in society, and the diversity of the Deaf community and sign languages.
The set of programmes, including the emotive video campaigns, proved to foster appreciation and awareness of Deaf people, their culture, and their language in the conscience of hundreds of thousands of hearing people.