16 September

International Deaf Awareness Month – September 2019

A special post from Alison Gervais, author of The Silence Between Us and In 27 Days.

The month of September is one that brings a lot of opportunities for us to celebrate, with holidays such as Labor Day, and also causes for us to bring awareness to, like National Suicide Prevention Month. Another cause – most likely not as well known – that comes about in the month of September is International Deaf Awareness Month.

Oftentimes it might be easy for some to overlook deafness or being deaf as merely a medical condition or just a lack of hearing, rather than a diverse group with a rich culture and history, their own language. And it wasn’t too long ago where a large portion of the Deaf community were taught that their only option was to conform to the oralistapproach and using sign language was not to be tolerated. Now into the 21st century we’re seeing attitudes changing as more awareness is brought to light about the Deaf community and their history, and this is something I can’t wait to see more of.

It’s thanks to causes like International Deaf Awareness Month and Deaf activists such as Marlee Matlin and Nyle DiMarco, that more information about this amazing culture and ASL is becoming widespread. Some of this knowledge has been here all along and we didn’t even know it; like, we have football players from Gallaudet University – a school built in the 1860s that eventually became a university specifically for the Deaf – for the “football huddle”. This was to prevent the opposing team from witnessing their signing to figure out what their next move was going to be.

I’d like to think I played my own part in helping the cause by writing The Silence Between Us, but it wasn’t my intention to write a trailblazing novel about a Deaf character solely for the purpose of informing the public. I had a story to tell featuring a Deaf main character that also drew on my own experiences growing up Hard of Hearing. But even then, I still hope readers enjoy experiencing the point of view of someone else who’s different than they are. Not everyone experiences the world the same way, and to be able to see that through different lenses – and in a good book! – can be a great way to learn.

If you are interested in learning more—and I sure hope so!—check out some of these resources:

The Silence Between Us is on sale now. You can pick up your copy where books are sold.