The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is one of the oldest organizations representing people with disabilities around the world.
On March 10th, Colin Allen, President of WFD and Shane Feldman, the President of Discovering Deaf Worlds (DDW), signed an official partnership.
We reached out to Colin Allen to learn more about WFD’s core focus, UNCRPD, and their partnership with DDW.
Yes, CRPD is a very important legal document, it is the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. CRPD is a high level tool for deaf people and people with disabilities from all over the world. CRPD has been ratified by the United Nations, and is composed of different articles within the convention. The articles focuses on people with disabilities including deaf people, ensuring that their lives are equal to others. Additionally, the goal of the convention is to shift from medical paradigm to a human rights view. Now, wheredoes the Deaf Community fit in? Well, we at WFD have been lobbying on the behalf of the Deaf Community and we’ve seen some successes. We were able to insert some deaf centric topics within the convention, focusing on Sign Language rights. It is important for deaf people to be able to participate as equals, and that can be done through sign language. As an example, there is an article that states that sign language is a language equal to that of spoken language, therefore, the question of whether we should worry about the eradication or prevention of deaf individuals from learning sign language is greatly reduced as now the United Nations recognizes Sign Language.
By recognizing Sign Language, the convention now recognizes sign language within the education for children, which means children have the right to be taught in sign language. Sign language interpreters must be professionally trained, and within education, it is about the deaf identity and how our identity is developed through learning language and culture.
So the aim of the CRPD is to make you feel equal within your society, your social lives
That’s important work on a global level. While researching I came across WFD’s new partnership with another organization, DDW, Discovering Deaf Worlds. I’m curious to learn more about this, what will this partnership entails moving forward?
DDW focuses on supporting the Deaf Community, focusing on human rights elements which is in part from the CRPD, and also provide administrative training and empowerment. There are many other organizations, however their work and focus are a bit more broad, such as focusing on people with disabilities. However, DDW focuses solely on the Deaf Community. Nations has 193 countries, which means there are 60 countries that have no deaf oganizations at the moment, which means they have no representation within WFD. So, that is the goal of WFD and DDW to support the growth of deaf organizations and leadership in these countries, in hope that we will have a truly reflective Deaf Community and organizations in all parts of the world, possibly becoming a deaf version of United Nations, focusing on the support of Sign Language and advocating for deaf children to learn through sign language. All of this goes back to the CRPD’s framework and how we can disseminate it to everyone.
Thank you, Colin. We look forward to seeing everything WFD will accomplish in the future.