2021: An exceptional year

2021 continued to be dominated by Covid19, albeit to a lesser degree as vaccines began to be distributed around the world. The WFD continued to monitor developments in international arenas to ensure consistent access during Covid-19. We initiated several projects and issued Statements to highlight best practices during Covid-19 We continue to face Covid19 and other challenges, and we continue to fight for the rights of deaf people and work to support deaf people globally.

This year the WFD celebrates its 70th Anniversary. As part of our gift to global deaf communities we hosted 12 webinars. These webinars covered a variety of topics and with panelists from all over the world, with deaf experts in a variety of fields. You can find these webinars on our website.
The 23rd of September 2021 marked the official 70th anniversary of the WFD. Our Ordinary Member, ENS (Ente Nazionale Sordi), the Italian Association of the Deaf, invited the WFD to join them in a special celebration in Rome, Italy, where it all started.

Our Work in 2021

Our work prioritizes the collaboration between the WFD and national associations of deaf people who make up our membership. This year we have expanded to 131 OMs. We have continued to do our work through zoom, with consultations through collaborative dialogue. We have also participated in Regional Secretariat meetings in zoom and in-person throughout the year.

In 2021, there was a change in the composition of the WFD office. In addition to our new Executive Director, we now have a total of 10 staff members, including project-funded staff.

The WFD also has expanded the scope of our work with 5 new partnerships with other organizations. Partnerships support our capacity for growth and allow us to further advocate for international disability awareness and rights as well as to circulate and distribute information among other important tasks.

The core of our work remains our connections with deaf organizations worldwide. This collaboration remains strong and consistent. We continue to fight barriers and engage in dialogues with global deaf communities.

Our 2021 Advocacy Achievements

The WFD's work follows the 10 year strategic plan to achieve human rights in 4 distinct areas.

  • Recognition of Sign Languages

Our project work in this area continues with support to national associations of deaf people, webinars, and tools. We are pleased to report continuous growth in the number of countries that recognise their national sign languages, which is currently 69 countries.

  • Leadership by Deaf Organizations

The WFD keeps to the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us'' in all areas of our work. We have emphasized that human rights bodies, such as the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, should have deaf representation. We have also advocated for deaf people to lead all projects related to the teaching of sign language and sign language linguistics research.

We are working to expand our capacities in the areas of humanitarian action. In line with this goal, we have established a new Disaster Risk Reduction Expert Group to support the WFD in our work in ensuring deaf people are not left behind in any disasters or humanitarian emergencies.

The WFD continues to work towards our goals!

  • Equal Opportunities

A key are of the WFD’s work is ensuring equal opportunities for all deaf people across all areas of life. The WFD conducted a project to learn about African deaf people’s access to employment. The results of the final report can go on to support deaf communities around the world by providing advice and best practices on access to employment.

The WFD will continue to fight for access to interpreters, employment and to all areas of life to secure deaf rights globally.

  • Full Inclusion

This year the WFD has dedicated attention to intersectionality, and how we can incorporate intersectional approaches in our work and in the work of our member associations. We aim to increase knowledge of intersectional approaches in our work and that of our member organizations. The deaf community is diverse and intersectional in nature. We have developed new partnerships with different organizations to bring new perspectives to our work. Our goals of full inclusion through sign languages also includes full inclusion of all members of our diverse deaf communities.

The WFD stands firm in ensuring the dignity and respect of inherent human rights of all deaf people all over the world and have brought attention about human rights abuses in Haiti and Afghanistan, among others, to the United Nations, UNICEF, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Organisation of American States.

Moving Forward to 2022

2022 is a new year and with new opportunities.

We look forward to the 4th WFD Conference in Bangkok, Thailand in April. The conference has a new format with a focus on capacity building amongst our Ordinary Members to address the theme of inclusive education. At this conference we will work towards answering what it means to be inclusive of deaf people in educational settings.

Our Sign Language Rights Project with the Nippon Foundation continues in a second year. We continue to work towards our goal of supporting national deaf associations in the legal recognition of their national sign languages.

2022 is a new year with new opportunities for connection, exchange, and collaboration. Together, we can acheive much!

Support our work for deaf rights

By becoming an individual member of WFD, you are helping to advance the fight for the human rights of deaf people around the world.

Together we can achieve much.