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World Federation of the Deaf Congress

CBM booth at the WFD conference
CBM booth - kept busy during the World Federation of the Deaf congress in Durban, July 2011

In July 2011, CBM attended the 16th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), and was represented by staff, advisers and partners. The CBM booth was kept busy and the CBM partners (deaf teachers and deaf and hard of hearing activists) were impressed and encouraged by the event.

CBM represented by staff, advisors and partners

From 18-24 July 2011, deaf people and deaf people’s organisations from all over the world came together in Durban for the the 16th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD)

CBM was present for the first time at a WFD World Congress, represented by staff members, advisers and partners. We wanted to learn about what is happening in the deaf movement, and we also wanted to inform about the work that we do. The CBM booth in the exhibition hall was very busy most of the time, with (deaf) people from all over the world discussing, sharing and networking.

Seven deaf teachers of deaf people and deaf/hard of hearing activists attended the congress with support from CBM.  They came together after the congress for post conference workshops to discuss and exchange thoughts about developments and challenges in teacher training of teachers for deaf people in developing countries.

Participants' voices/signs during the congress :

Mr. George Otieno from Kenya - teacher of deaf people

Two men talking in sign language; one is African and behind them there is a CBM banner ©CBM
George Otieno Osawa from Kenya, with an interested WFD participant
One of the things that has been very interesting for me is to see how technology can be used and how it can improve communication. For example, how computers are used in the class room.

It is interesting to see that there are countries with similar challenges to Kenya, but there are also countries that are much more advanced, from which we can learn.

Ms Ahlam Kreysat from Jordan - teacher of deaf people

A woman standing in front of a CBM sign at a congress ©CBM
Ms Ahlam Kreysat, teacher deaf people in Jordan
This is my first time to come to the WFD congress. The people are so different, the sign languages are different. I have met many people, yet I am able to communicate in international sign language. The cultures of the world amongst the deaf are here together. The deaf culture is very alive here in this congress and I feel very strongly part of it.

When I arrived I had no expectations of WFD and how it would look like. I had a few challenges in registering. From the presentations I have seen at this congress, I have learned a lot. Deaf people presenting about deaf culture and the oppression of deaf people. The organisations of deaf people in Europe - in Finland - are so advanced, but in Africa, Asia and the Arab World, countries are still behind. I really feel there is a slow movement in developing countries.

But I have met so many other people from other regions of the world. In four years the WFD world congress will be in Turkey.

The WFD board should involve more people from developing countries.  But I am happy about CBM, the cooperation we have had is so good. We are very well connected and work together well. I would like to thank CBM for having the opportunity to attend this congress. I am learning a lot and I am getting a lot if inspiration.

Mr. Anibal Subirana from Bolivia - President of the Federation of the Deaf of Bolivia

A man showing another man a booklet at a conference ©CBM
Mr. Anibal Subirana from the Bolivian Federation of the Deaf, showing a Bolivian sign language training module to a WFD participant. The module was produced with the support of CBM
I have seen that there are many different people from different deaf cultures coming together at this important congress. They are exchanging their experiences, their abilities and also their hope for the future.

As a deaf person from Bolivia, I am very grateful for the support of CBM, that I have the opportunity to be part of this congress. I will take home a lot of learnings, a lot of knowledge. I made many new friends within the CBM group. And I feel part of this group. Thank you!

Mr. Joe Morrissey from Tanzania - teacher of deaf people working with programmes for deaf and deafblind people in East Africa

A man smiling happily ©CBM
Mr. Joe Morrissey, teacher of deaf people in East Africa
I think this is a good meeting point and an opportunity for deaf people to discuss and share their views. I think the topics of the lectures are dominated by so called first world countries, and we need to adopt them to the needs in Africa.

Our needs in Africa are quite basic and we are looking at many things from different angles. At this forum it is our opportunity to remind others that in poorer parts of the world there is no basic literacy for deaf people; there are challenges of developing sign language, accessibility to education, health issues like reproductive health and AIDS awareness.

Inclusive education for us is embracing deaf people, addressing some of their needs and building bridges so that they have a meaningful role in their communities.

Ms Nassozi Kiyaga from Uganda - teacher of deaf people and community activist

Two people saying "CBM" in sign language ©CBM
Ahlam Kreysat and Nassozi Kiyaga (left) signing the sign for CBM
First of all I thank CBM for the privilege of participating in the congress. One theme of this congress has been deaf education, and it has been highlighted how developing countries are lagging behind in education for deaf children. This congress has given me an opportunity to learn about CBM and their involvement in advancing education for deaf. Sign language is paramount in the education of deaf children in addition to rehabilitation and the provision of hearing aids and audiological services to hard of hearing children.

Today’s theme is ‘human rights for deaf and disabled people all over the world’. The significance of implementing the UNCRPD is highlighted.  WFD has enlightened us that it is important to focus on human rights for all persons with disabilities. This is where CBM comes in, in its endeavours to extend services to meet the needs of all persons with disabilities in the poorest parts of the world.

One of the highlights and a very unique aspect of this congress is bringing together deaf and hard of hearing people from different parts of the world, sharing their experiences. Because when we share experiences and challenges we learn to work together, and despite the challenges we face in our countries, we feel that we are not alone.

Another aspect that impresses me is the use of different sign languages. They are different, but people can communicate. This congress is a community, a world in itself, bringing people together to communicate. I hope that we carry the vision, the energy and the encouragement of this congress into our work. We shall form stronger networks to transform lives, because we are capable of doing this.

In sign language the sign of CBM is a fist of the left hand and the right hand rolling over to show support, unity and togetherness. And this is the heart of our work.

Mr. K. Murali from India - Director of 'Deaf Leaders’, deaf empowerment activities for literacy, education, accessible development, employment, rehabilitation & sports

People at the CBM booth during a conference ©CBM
Mr. K. Murali (centre) at the CBM booth
I have attended twice the World Federation of the Deaf Conference, both in Canada 2002 and Durban 2011. I was extremely excited and I have learnt to improve the empowerment and innovative technologies in educating deaf people all over the world.

In Canada 2002,  Dr. Liisa Kauppinen, WFD President Emeritus and Mr. Markku Jokinen, President of WFD, broad-shouldered and counselled me to improve the talent of deaf community in India. I listened to their advice and suggestions and I have involved it into my work.

In Durban 2011, again we met each other after a very long time and they felt very glad to know about my involvement in the Deaf Community in India. Mr. Ron and Mrs. Sian did very enormous work and planned the CBM education program well, making it very impressive. I also met Mr. Colin Allen, elected as the new president of WFD from 2011 to 2015 and discussed their visit to India in 2012.  
I met many deaf people who were from various countries.  They shared with me about the deaf culture and teaching for Global Deaf renaissance 2012 of WFD in Durban.
It was very interesting and I felt very fortunate in supporting the CBM in the stall booth. I explained to many delegates and visitors about CBM encouraging deaf people in many countries. I also visited two schools in South Africa and I shared my experience with deaf teachers in those schools. Their teaching for deaf students is good. I felt happy from the good CBM workshop in all education programmes.
I take this opportunity to convey my big thanks to CBM team, research team and officials - I never forget CBM in my life!

'CBM' in sign language

CBM in sign language


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