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Honoring North Carolina’s Deaf community during Deaf Awareness Month

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RALEIGH — In an ongoing effort to encourage increased awareness, understanding and recognition of the many contributions made by Deaf people across the state of North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed September 2023 as Deaf Awareness Month.

Recognizing Deaf Awareness Month demonstrates North Carolina’s ongoing commitment to promote communication equity among all of our state’s residents.

In North Carolina, more than 200 infants are diagnosed each year with permanent hearing loss, and each year about 200 additional children acquire hearing loss prior to starting school. It is projected 1.6 million North Carolinian adults will have a hearing loss by the year 2030.

Early and constant exposure to a fully accessible language, whether spoken English or American Sign Language, has been shown to help provide a strong linguistic foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children fostering meaningful attachments to their parents and ensuring their readiness for kindergarten, capacity to regulate their own behaviors and emotions, and their future successes as self-sufficient adults.


“As a member of the Deaf community, I am frequently inspired by the diversity, vibrancy and ingenuity of its members, the richness of its culture and the sophistication of ASL,” said Jan Withers, director of the NCDHHS Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. “We learn so much from one another in this community on how to live fully in our society. That is why we at the department have dedicated ourselves to educating and supporting all North Carolinians in fully engaging this vital community.”

This year commemorates 72 years since the first congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, which was held in September 1951. Governor Cooper’s proclamation celebrating Deaf Awareness Month serves as a celebration and a renewed commitment to raise awareness of the many people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing who belong to a cultural and linguistic community with shared language, social norms, rules of behavior and history, as well as the vibrant population they comprise within the state of North Carolina.

The NCDHHS Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and its seven regional centers provide services, including advocacy for communication access, consultation, Deaf culture and ASL awareness, linking those who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or DeafBlind to needed services and resources, and training for agencies and businesses on ensuring communication access in their service delivery.

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