Fact Sheet

Table of content

  1. Role
  2. Status
  3. History
  4. Major Events

Total number of members:

  • 132 Ordinary Members, representing all five continents in the world
  • 200 Individual Members
  • 20 Associate Members
  • 4 International Members
  • 2 Honorary Presidents
  • 8 Honorary Members

8 Regional Secretariats:

  • Asia
  • Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean
  • Eastern Europe and Middle Asia
  • Oceania
  • Eastern and Southern Africa
  • Western and Central Africa
  • South America
  • Arab Region (Interim)

1 Regional Co-operating Partner:

  • European Union of the Deaf

1 Affiliate:

  • World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI)

1 Section

  • Youth Section

Number of staff:

  • Team Leader
  • Development Officer
  • Administrative Secretary
  • Human Rights Officer
  • Project Officer

Size of board:

10 board members (all of whom are Deaf)


WFD is an international, non-governmental, central organisation comprising national associations of Deaf people.

At present, emphasis is placed on the following areas:

  • Improve the status of national sign languages
  • Better education for Deaf people
  • Improve access to information and services
  • Improve human rights for Deaf people in developing countries

The highest decision-making body of WFD is the General Assembly. Every Ordinary Member has the right to send up to two delegates to attend the Assembly, held every four years.

The Assembly is held in conjunction with the quadrennial World Congress of the Deaf.


WFD has a consultative status with the United Nations and is represented on the following groups:

  • Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • Panel of Experts on the UN Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • World Bank

WFD has a participatory status with the Council of Europe. It is a founding member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

WFD provides expert advice on Deaf issues in its relationship with other international organisations and professional groups.

The legal seat of WFD is in Helsinki, Finland.


WFD was established in 1951 during the first World Deaf Congress in Rome, Italy. This makes it one of the oldest international organisations for people with disabilities in the world.

Major Events

  • International Week of the Deaf held during the fourth week of September annually
  • World Congress of the Deaf held quadrennially; next World Congress will be held in Paris, France from 23 – 26 July 2019.
  • Between WFD Congresses, a small conference is held.; next WFD conference will be held in Budapest, Hungary from 8 – 10 November 2017.

November 18, 2016    Fact Sheet  

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