WFD Congress Theme and Commissions

XIX WFD Congress Theme


“Securing Human Rights in Times of Crisis”.

Upholding deaf people’s human rights, promoting equality and the principle that all deaf individuals be treated regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture, age, religion and intersectional identities.

Under the circumstance of different Crisis, including infectious diseases, climate change, natural disasters, and armed conflict, deaf people all over the world experience language deprivation, socioeconomic disadvantages, and audism. The XIX World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf will bring together deaf people and our allies to emphasize the importance of securing and maintaining the human rights of all deaf people during the different, multiple, and overlapping Crisis we face as deaf citizens of the world.

Guaranteeing the well-being of deaf people in situations of crisis is a matter of human rights. Existing human rights treaties apply to deaf people as to all people, before, during, and after disasters. This must be made clear and actively realized. Our human rights as deaf people who use a multiplicity of sign languages must be reasserted and guaranteed when it comes to our linguistic human rights, quality and inclusive education in national sign languages, equal access to information, and full participation in our societies.


Sign languages and Deaf Studies

Deaf Communities around the world are experiencing a particularly dynamic period. This Commission looks at the importance of and contribution made by deaf people in society, the vitality of sign languages and the critical nature of Deaf Studies. Sign languages are a fundamental human right for all deaf people, and free access to sign languages are vital for deaf people to attain access and inclusion in the general community.

This Commission proposes initiatives to promote the use of sign languages and facilitate the legal recognition of sign languages. Presentations also examine the impact laws have had on deaf people’s achievement of human rights. Deaf Studies research has the potential to illuminate deaf lives and enable deaf communities to shape more equal societies. This Commission is a space for highlighting the importance of academic research, including knowledge sharing between Deaf Studies researchers and deaf communities about sign languages. Presentations will also explore local and national best practices and opportunities for the future.

International President
Name : Robert Adam
Country : Australia

Achieving Quality Multilingual Inclusive Education

Recent developments in international cooperation have strengthened an international consensus that inclusive education for deaf children means educational settings where deaf learners have full access to the curriculum in their national sign languages. The rights of deaf children to a quality education per national and international legislation and human rights treaties needs to be guaranteed in educational practices. There remain challenges in the form of outdated views from neo-oral ideologies and the emphasis on narrow models of inclusive education. This Commission aims to highlight best practices in multilingual education, in promoting truly inclusive education for deaf learners of all ages in pedagogical, advocacy, and legal initiatives and standards. Papers will examine best practice including the benefits of multilingualism, the promotion of language-rich learning environments and the importance of identity and peer support in quality inclusive education. The covid-19 pandemic has created innovations in educational instruction and this Commission will look at the lessons learnt from the shift to online and remote education for deaf learners. What can we take with us to build back better, not only in regular times but also in preparation for future emergencies?

International President
Name : Kristin Snoddon
Country : Canada

Technology, Accessibility, and Employment

Access to and within wider society through national sign languages is an important part of building equal societies that are open to all. Existing and new technologies have the potential to promote increased inclusion in society. This Commission will present the latest trends in technology, accessibility, and employment for deaf people. Presentations will look at best practices in sign language interpreting and translations, as current and emerging technologies, tools and resources that utilise sign language to enhance accessibility in all areas of everyday life and in employment. This includes the need for standards, the cost implications and the impacts on human beings associated with the advent of new technologies. This Commission’s presentations also cover a range of employment issues for deaf people, from reasonable accommodations, deaf entrepreneurs, and governmental and private sector initiatives to ensure deaf people have access to and thrive within the workplace.

International President
Name : Kang-Suk Byun
Country : South Korea

International Cooperation and Development

Partnerships between deaf people, deaf-led organisations, international development entities and local in-country agencies are critical to the realisation of deaf people’s human rights. This Commission showcases successful cooperative ventures which have made deaf communities stronger and more resilient. Presentations will look at best practices in addressing various challenges faced in development work, bringing forward lessons learnt to encourage similar partnerships in other countries and regions. This Commission looks at a broad range of development activities for inclusive communities, highlighting presentations from deaf-led projects and organisations situated in the Global South.

International President
Name : Deborah Iyute
Country : Uganda

Human Rights during Humanitarian Emergencies and Crises

The covid-19 pandemic led to global upheaval, with no nation or deaf community left undisturbed. International, national, and local deaf communities and our partner organizations worked to lobby governments and international organizations for full access to information and services during the pandemic and its aftermath, with varying degrees of success. In this Commission we seek to highlight lessons learnt from this and other humanitarian emergencies and crises for the physical and mental health, safety, and sustainability of deaf peoples and communities. This Commission will take a broad look at preventive and proactive measures that should be undertaken during emergency situations, whether human-generated or from natural disasters and climate change. We also look at how deaf communities can be involved in international and national disaster relief reduction (DRR) initiatives, mainstreaming deaf issues as part of DRR work. An important part of this work is addressing the situation of deaf displaced peoples, migrants, and refugees around the world.

International President
Name : Henry Meija Royet
Country : Colombia

Intersectionalities in Deaf Communities

Deaf communities are among the most diverse communities on Earth, with deaf people appearing in each indigenous, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, identity-based and cultural group on the planet. In this Commission we look at the strengths of our diverse communities, exploring how to take on intersectional approaches to our deaf communities’ advocacy and human rights work. In this Commission, issues of gender, sexuality, racial and ethnic diversity, disability, and other forms of diverse identities will be explored from among the wide range of experiences and perspectives around the globe. What policies and practices can we adopt to ensure our communities are truly inclusive of all peoples and perspectives? An important part of this is looking at international human rights conventions and declarations can assist in combating discrimination and violence against marginalized populations, as well as examples of initiatives supporting such populations which should be further disseminated

International President
Name : Abigail Gorman
Country : United-Kingdom

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