The war in Ukraine significantly increased the vulnerability of its deaf and hard-of-hearing population – many could not hear air raid sirens and get to bomb shelters in time. Before the onset of hostilities there were more than 2 million people in Ukraine with impaired hearing, and 31,000 were reported to be living with complete hearing loss, claims the World Health Organization.
The Ukrainian Society of the Deaf, a non-governmental organization assisting people with impaired hearing in Ukraine since 1933, worked tirelessly to ensure people were receiving most up-to-date information in Ukrainian sign language – latest news and developments, dangers, and ways to evacuate, seek shelter and medical assistance.
In the first year of the full-scale invasion, the Society organized evacuation of more than 6,299 deaf Ukrainians from the most dangerous regions. The national associations of the deaf in Moldova, Poland, and Hungary were among the first who admitted and helped settle these evacuees – assistance made possible by the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal (a joint effort of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF) and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), launched in January of 2022).
To ensure quality access to information and services for the deaf population in Ukraine as well as for those who found temporary refuge in neighboring countries continues, the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal further supports the work of the Ukrainian Society of the Deaf by funding the following programming for 2023-24:
- around-the-clock access to the latest news and developments on the war, interpreting messages of the President of Ukraine, Army officials and spokespersons
- online communication services, professional opportunities for the deaf, and barrier-free access to medical advice and appointments
- mental health support for various age groups through video and support materials
- educational tools for displaced children attending schools in neighboring countries
Last summer, Iryna Chepchyna, president of the Ukrainian Society of the Deaf, attended the World Congress of the Deaf in Korea and addressed the challenges faced by people with a hearing impairment in Ukraine during the war.
She received an International Solidarity Award from the President of the World Federation of the Deaf, Joseph Murray, for her leadership of the Ukrainian Society of the Deaf.
Over the last two years, thanks to the steadfast Donor support of the CUF-UCC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, evacuation to safety, interpreting services, efficient delivery of critical information and programming was and continues to be provided to the deaf and hard-of-hearing population – Thank you!