President’s Message for July 2017 issue of WFD Newsletter

Dear Friends,

The past two months have been rewarding for the WFD. We were constantly reminded that our advocacy work that is to promote sign language as human rights in all aspects of a deaf person’s life is necessary and urgent. The pre-requisites to embark on this is two-fold: sign language should not be deemed as an alternative and the paradigm shift from the medical model to human rights approach must be respected.

 The WFD reiterated this fact in our response to the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution for prevention of deafness and hearing loss when sign langauge was not given priority in the WHA newly adopted resolution. We also delivered the WFD Statement at the 10th Session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) during the General Debate on 14 June 2017. Similarly, we stressed the  important role that sign language plays in deaf education, accessibility through professional sign language interpretation as well as full participation of deaf associations in the implementation of the CRPD.

Relating full participation, do check out the article from Mr Frank Folino, President of the Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD),  sharing about his Geneva experience when participating at the 17th session of the CRPD Committee in March/April 2017. The success of Mr Frank Folino’s full participation is largely contributed by the availability of professional International Sign interpreters.

Presently, we are facing shortage of International Sign interpreters. Based on anecdotal reports, an International Sign interpreter has received in one day, 6 different interpretation requests from six different organisations for events held on the same day in six different countries. To address this, along with World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), we established the WFD-WASLI International Sign Interpreter Accreditation. Currently, we have accredited 23 practitioners yet more is needed. The application for the accreditation is open in September annually. Forward the ’Save the date’ document to as many people you know and encourage them to apply.

We have also just returned from our 112th WFD Board Meeting held in Fukuoka, Japan from 30 June to 2 July 2017. We were joined by Mr Berima Aboras, our recently elected Board Member from Sudan, WFDYS President and Regional Directors from the WFD Regional Secretariats in Asia and Arab Regions as well as Presidents from our country members in Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea.

Apart from the successful discussions during the board meetings, we had the opportunity to deliver presentations to over 4,000 deaf participants across Japan as well as meet with various governmental authorities including the honourable His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino and Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino.  We are thankful to the Japanese Federation of the Deaf for the smooth planning and warm hospitality. Their persistence and perseverance in lobbying their campaign to recognise sign language in the legislation is inspiring and admirable.

While fundraising in the WFD is growing slowly, we are pleased to raise around €2,000 in Japan due to the tremendous support from the local Deaf Community. You can donate to the WFD here. To achieve long-term goals, our work needs to be sustainable. In order to do so, we rely on financial support through donations and memberships. To join as an Individual Member, visit this link.

On housekeeping matters, check out the ’Quick Updates’ section wherein we introduced new additions to our team namely our 134th Ordinary Member Lebanese Federation of the Deaf (LFD), and newly appointed external WFD Legal Advisors and Expert Group Members. We have also recently added new Resources to our webpage including guidelines on ‘WFD Role in Ordinary Member Conflict’.