Saturday, 23 July 2011

Goodbye South Africa.....

Dear colleagues and friends,

We hope you enjoyed the efsli reports from the WASLI conference and WFD congress in South Africa. The events have been interesting, fun and inspiring. Thank you for enjoying the excitement with us.

You can read all the reports from both conferences, they are linked in the menu on the right hand side. The blog will be further updated during the coming months, with more pictures and updated reports.

The board of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (efsli) hopes to see you at one of the upcoming efsli events in Europe:
  • 16 & 18 September 2011: efsli AGM & conference, Italy (
  • 3 - 5 November 2011: efsli school 'efsli's got talent', London, UK (
  • 14 & 15 November 2011: efsli working seminar 'Towards a Standard Curriculum for Sign Language Interpreters across Europe, Utrecht, the Netherlands (
  • 4 - 6 May 2012: efsli spring school 'Interpreting in Legal Settings', Greece (
  • 14 - 16 September 2012: efsli AGM & conference, Vienna, Austria 
  • 17 - 19 September 2012: efsli Trainers' seminar, Graz, Austria
If you would like to know more about efsli or if you would like to become a member, please visit the efsli website. For any further questions, please contact the efsli secretariat:

Warm regards,
Maya de Wit, efsli president

Special interest group presentations - sign language interpreters

 Four presentations were held within the special interest group sign language interpreters. The summary of these presentations will be published later on this blog.

Are Deaf interpreters a part of the Global Deaf renaissance or the Global Deaf resistance?
Presenters: Robert Adam and Christopher Stone

Mentoring of sign language interpreters 
Presenter: Francois Deysel

Deaf interpreters, what are their strengths and weaknesses?
Presenters: Gardy van Gils & Willem Terpstra

A sign language interpreter in inclusive education: The View of Deaf persons on their Quality of Life.
Presenter: Maya de Wit

Creating a Stress free Environment for the Deaf - Michinori Nakahashi

The presenter works with the Japanese Deaf Association and is the director of labor and vocation within the association.

Research has been conducted on the work situation of deaf persons in Japan. The history of occupation of Deaf people in Japan looks as follows:
Previously Deaf people used to work in manual labour fields, such as carpentry, hair dressing, etc. From 1963 - 1965 a law was passed that employers should hire persons with disabilities. As a consequence since 1970 more Deaf people have obtained jobs in other fields, due to the provision of interpreting services.

Deaf people currently in employment still face barriers in employment. They do receive interpreting services and subsidies for persons with disabilities and also job coaches at the new work place. We try to ensure that communication and information sharing is actually taking place at the work place.

There is a high employment rate of deaf people in Japan, there is a low retention rate. Nearly 40% of the Deaf workers at large scale companies quite within five years. The number reason for this being the atmosphere in the work place and the frequent communication breakdown. The second rason is that the wages are lower than their hearing colleagues and they work long hours. The work environments are mostly oral, which they then become isolated, which then causes stress.

The social factor at the work place is also difficult. The hearing people chat with each other, but the Deaf person can then not join in, and therefore being again isolated.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf conducted research for three years from 2003 to 2005. We surveyed over 3000 members of the association. We hoped that with these results we can improve the situation for deaf people in the work place in Japan. We also conducted interviews with the hearing persons in the work place where the deaf persons work. Three reports were published with recommendations.

The most important recommendation is to have sign language in the work place and to have a communication friendly work place. One of the other findings is that Deaf people do complain about their situation in the work place, to make this known will actually help in better understanding and a step towards possible changes.

Next to the reports, manuals were developed for hearing people on how they can work together with deaf people. There are three important recommendations that evolved:

  1. It should be a work place where deaf workers can feel comfortable to consult
  2. Develop manuals to inform Deaf and hearing people on how to create a communication friendly work place
  3. UNCRPD: Japan has not ratified the UNCRPD yet, but we can use elements from the convention to implement
With having a stress free work environment for deaf workers, we will also be able to achieve equality in the work place. 

Development of the social competence of Deaf learners / clients and facilitators in a learning, working and living environment - A.L. Smit & DJP Ebersohn


The presenters will explain the use of the Social Competency Model (SoCoMo) which can be used with deaf learners. This is also used in training for management and leadership.

The SoCoMo is a coaching and development programme founded in developmental psychology, five learning theories, and behavioral psychology. It is aimed at the reinforcement of competent behaviour and reduction of incompetent behaviour, acquiring skills in oreder to gain and maintain and balance between skills (social and personal) and tasks (development and communal), building a personal support network to cope with life events and social and disability-related stress, and maintain a sense of well-being, strengthening resilience.

The presenter gives a definition of Social competent behaviour (see slide).

Incompetent behaviour is when it is damaging to yourself and others, such as in the areas of human diginity and rights, well being, health, safety, etc.

A paradigm shift is needed to learn competent social behaviour. The behaviour is learned and can be unlearned. The 'problem behaviour' should be seen as something that is not yet developed. Over-involvement and criticism should be replaced by positive regard and respect. And there should be openness an transparency, there is always something good and positive. Most of the time persons are focused on the negative aspects. We must negate and prioritize which behaviour should be learned first.

The paradigm shift is needed. No longer emphasize the negative aspects, but focus on a positive relationship of respect and dignity.

Observation is the key to intervention or guidance. You must have an accurate observation which leads to appropriate action, beware of the interpretation and the describe the observations.

The presenter is explaining the sign for SoCoMo which looks like a scale. The scale has two sides: tasks on one side and the skills on the other side.

Unfortunately there is not sufficient time to explain all details. The course is in fact 96 hours of teaching.

Prevalence of behavioural problems among school aged deaf learners in South Africa - Deon de Villers & David Martin

The "dream" presented is a dream of dr. Murdock Henderson who asked the presenters to present this on behalf of him as well. 

We have indentified many issues with deaf children in South Africa, such as an increased decline, gang formations, etc.

These issues are dealt with in various ways. One is called the 'restorative justice', not the rules are important but it is the relationship between the child and who is the child in relationship with that is of importance. Other solutions are:

  • Circle of courage model
  • Social competency model (from the NL)
  • Discipline programmes: merits/demerits
  • Punishment: various techniques. 
  • Expulsion
  • Drop out (solution is to make the life impossible for the child and then be lost in total or placed some where else).

Many of the students are lost to society. There are certain consequences to this:

  • Inadequate schooling
  • Social and self reflection (as a consequence depression)
  • Decline in social skills (not any longer regulated and no sense of value)
  • Lack of care
  • Loss of purpose
  • Incarceration
  • Loss of identity
  • Etc.

In most situations the interventions are successful. But there are students who are out of the system and are lost in society. Following the dream of Dr. Murdock Henderson is presented: the INTABA dream.

There are some facts presented on South Africa, such as there are 800.000 to 1.4 million Deaf people without mental health services. Currently there are 56.000 D/deaf people with mental health issues.

Intaba means 'mountain'. It has two boards INTABA international and INTABA RSA. Partners in Nambia:
There are four strategies that are within INTABA:

  1. offering an internship
  2. locate and secure funds for the acquisition of some land and facilities, such as land, a school and cottages
  3. working with the children
  4. adult programme with a focus on addiction, provided with medical staff such as psychiatrist

The first year we will need 6 to 7 million ZAR (excl. food and unforeseen), but following that more money will be needed to carry the project forward.

More information:

Friday, 22 July 2011

Deafness and Extra Costs: The Legitimacy of Domestic Compension Schemes - Richard Sahlin

The presenter introduced himself as a teacher and researcher. He has looked at disability rights and the compensation that governments have given.

There is a strong link between deafness and poverty, which could be due to lower income and extra costs. Globally the states have a different set of domestic measures. The presenter looks specifically at the situation for deaf people in Sweden. Deaf people are faces with extra costs which is due to the result of being deaf, such as interpreter costs since these costs are not always covered by the government.

There could be capital costs, such as a flashing door bell at home. These are available when you are at home and subsidised by your government, but not when you are traveling and staying at a hotel for example. There are also recurring costs such electricity (more lighting), phone calls (longer calls because of the text relay service), higher insurance costs (for example car insurance).

Human costs could be sign language interpreting, proofreading, health and medical counseling. And also animal costs, such as a hearing dog, who will assist you in your daily life. There are also additional travel costs for special international deaf events. Indirect costs can also occur, such as income loss or missed information (for example announcements through the speakers at the super market for special offers).

The presenter questions how we can assess these extra costs. The deaf person could assess his or her own extra costs. The government can also do this assessment and compare this with the costs of an average hearing person.

Some countries have a compensation scheme, a disability benefit, so the Deaf person can cover some of their extra expenses that way. These measures are taken to create economic equality, but at this moment we can not say that deaf and hearing persons now have economic equality.

There are restrictive dilemma's in the countries, such as there is always limit to the budget. If we look at the UNCRPD, art. 28, it states that Deaf people should have equal access. It does not say though how poverty should be solved in this respect.

The compensation scheme should be available as long as there is still inequality between deaf and hearing persons in society.

World Federation of the Deaf, Health Resources Initiative - J. Fellinger, A. Kuenburg & M. Jokinen

Dr. Fellinger
 Markku Jokinen starts the presentation by saying: "Health is important to human beings. Health is a human right."

Until today not much information or facts are available on the health of deaf people. This project is a small step towards the improvement of the health situation for deaf people in the world. Research is essential to assist us in this. Therefore this small study is a first step forward. In a survey deaf organisations from various regions were asked on the health situation in their region. The importance of health is also stated in article 25 of the UNCRPD. It says that states who ratified the UNCRPD must provide disabled person with high quality health services without barriers and no discrimination in this respect. It also states that the service must be equal in regard to gender. Markku Jokinen ends by saying that Deaf people must have good access to quality health services.

Dr. Fellinger then continues the presentation: "Health is a gift. If you are not healthy this can be a major problem, especially Deaf people". There is very little research done in the health situation of deaf people. The research does show that there is a high rate of mental health problems within the Deaf population. In the WFD there is also commission on mental health.

The framework of the WFD Health Resources initiative is to improve the health services situation and the accessibility to these services for Deaf people. Dr. Fellinger then mentions some of the specific aims of the framework. There are three partners: the needs assessment A (global survey), the needs assessment B (different D. populations in different nations, and thirdly best practices examples. Today Dr. Fellinger presents the results of the survey.

The survey was developed with international experts and WFD experts. The response rate was 44%, representing 40 countries worldwide. Of the respondents 2/3 report that Deaf people have more problems than hearing people in their country. Half of the respondents responded mental health or emotional problems first. The causes indicated were for example communication issues.

Of the respondents 4/5 reported that the accessibility to the health services for Deaf people are very difficult. In the low HDI countries 100 percent of the Deaf persons do not have a provision of an interpreter in health care services. In the high HDI countries this is 20 percent. 

There are limitations to the survey. It highly depends on the responses of the deaf presidents of the organisations. It is important that we now grab the opportunity an use thearticle 25 of the UNCRPD and that we lobby for our own interests and good health care for Deaf people. 

Dr. Fellinger ends his presentation by stating that the key to information is trust, and to trust each other and to work together this will bring us good quality healthcare.

Using the UN convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Helena Christina Gade

In order to use the UNCRPD beffectively you must study it first to understand it fully and also how this is related to your national laws. You can then use the UNCRPD to lobby nationally.

Following your pre-work on studying the UNCRPD and your national laws you can then establish a project with the main idea being spreading the knowledge: Informing & educating, developing values and attitudes, encouraging to arrange activities, enpowering through campaigning. You can establish different projects, such as an informational tour, or produce informational reports.

It is essential to have a strategy. I can then work effictively on what I would like to achieve. You can work in cooperation with the government or with politicians, or with disability groups and deaf organisations. In the strategy you can establish an expert committee. For example, in Denmark we establish this ad hoc committee. During our meetings we discussed how we could lobby our own government to incorporate the rights of the UNCRPD in the national laws.

Essential is that you have a good argumentation. You need to refer consistently to the legal documents and to present the reasons from a human right point of view. And your argumentation must have a good conclusion
Mor information can be found on the website:

A useful and powerful tool to use is the production of a "shadow report". The shadow report can be produced by the deaf organisation or another group of stakeholders, in which the real situation is reported. This can be presented alongside the report that the government sends to the UN. The government must present an evaluation or an informative report to the UN. This can be a one sided view and the shadow report will alert the UN to the problems that are really occuring on the ground. It is advised to write the shadow report with your national disability association.

The next step in the process is that you report on a violation of the UNCRPD. There are different levels of appeal that you can use in the case of vioalation of the UNCRPD. For example, the national appeal board, or the national board of equal treatment, the national court, etc. The situation in each country can be different in this respect. A powerful tool is also the media in the situation of violation or discrimination.

Countries who ratified the UNCRPD must set up a monitoring committee. This committee can also be of assistance if you do not know how to proceed. It is also important that you work collectively in your country and that you use all the tools that are available. You do not need to wait for the generosity of your politicians or your government, but you can actually now use the UNCRPD to lobby for your rights directly.

Human Rights the key to Global Deaf Renaissance - Deborah Oyuu Iyute

So far we have had three UN conventions that can be applied to Deaf people, and especially women and children:

  1. Un Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC): 21 years ago
  2. UN Conventions womemn (CEDAW) 30 yrs ago
  3. UNCRPD was implemented 3 years ago

The CRC is for all children regardless of their disability. An important article in the CRC is article 2.1. One important aspect in this article is the right to language. The other important article is 12.1. The point of that article is that (deaf) children should be supported with judicial settings. In article 13.3 it says that the child has freedom to expression. This implies that the Deaf child can express him or herself in the language of his or her choice, such as sign language.

There are child specific issues that the presenter would like to focus on. One of the aspects is the sexual abuse, even within the marriages the women are raped. What can we do to prevent this situation.  The second issue is parental neglect. The parents neglect or exploit the child. This various by country but the convention touches each of us.

The CEDAW aims at enlarging our understanding of the concept of human rights, as it gives formal recognition to the influence of culture and tradition on restricting womens enjoyment of their fundamental rights.

CEDAW is also concerned with the dimension of human reproduction as well as with the impact of cultural factors on gender relations. Art. 16 of the CEDAW focuses on the issue of marriage and family relations, asserting the equal rights and obligations of women and men with regard to choice of spouse, parenthood, personal rights and command over property. In addition art. 4 affirms women's right to  reproductive choice.

Art. 10 of the CEDAW states that the state parties should take all measures to reduce discrimination against women to ensure equal rights with men in the field of educatin and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women.  The presenter also mentions art. 14 which is focused on the problems faced by rural women who work extremely hard to take care of their families and children.

What needs to be done?
We need to eliminate the barriers that Deaf women and children face. We need to partner with other organisations and we need to share experiences.

To find solutions to solve the problems, we can use the UNCRPD, which came into place three years ago. The presenter focuses on article 9.2 (e) which relates to accessibility, especially by the use of professional sign language interpreters. We must advocate for the use of interpreters to assist us in becoming part of society and that society will become accessible. The other article mentioned is 21 (b) on the freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information.

We must inform our Deaf members and citizens of the CRPD, you all must participate in this informing. If you are not empowered you can not influence.  We also need active involvement and participation in different organisatons and we need to produce parallel reports within the organisations.

Effective strategies to promote our rights
It is important to build alliances with policy makers. So, you as Deaf people must allign with the policy makers and your government. You must also paly a key role in the domestication of the CRPD and other laws. The information must also be accessible to Deaf people through sign language. And also use to PR your cause.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

efsli blog on break for Thursday July 21

Dear followers,

Tomorrow, Thursday July 21st, there will be no live reporting from the WFD congress. We will be back on Friday July 22nd. Warm greetings from Durban!

More impresssions

Exhibition at WFD - impressions


The cochlear implant in the constitution of deaf subjects in the Amazon jungle - Luiza Rezende

The presenter explains that she is affiliated with a university in the South of Brazil, but she conducted the research in the Amazon. She did her PhD study for four years.

Brazil has a law that identifies sign language as a legitimate language, but the media and society very much promote the implementation of babies.

There are many babies implanted in the Amazone region of Brazil. I went there for the first time in 2007. I was interested in the attitudes of the families who decided to implant their babies. I started the study with two mothers and their babies. The mothers were very accepting and I could easily research the situation.

The two mothers were advised by two different CI organisations not to use any sign language. And the media also helped in promoting the positive message of CI usage. Although the deaf organisations expressed their concern about the implants, the CI associations emphasized that the implanted children would become part of society and accepted.

The presenter researched over 300 pages of media and asked an interpreter to translate the materials so she would understand the content. In the data that she collected she found that repetitavely the CI was promoted as a positive thing.

The deaf association kept saying that we needed a different approach, a different way of discussing the issue.

The homes of the families with the implanted babies turned nearly into a hospital with one medical professional after another assisting the family with learning to speak and to get accustomed to the new situation. In addition, the CI was provided for free, which was seen as a very positive thing by the family. There was even one family who celebrated the day that the baby received the CI, and not celebrating the child's birthday.

The goal of the OAE testing is to find the babies with a hearing loss as soon as possible and have them implanted, there by eradicating sign language and the deaf community.

I would like to say that technology is a good thing, but this kind of technology is not making the babies equal. By the fact that the government pays for the CI the government has bio power.

The presenter continues to give several examples of when there were medical professionals in situations who repeatedly said that she as a deaf person would not need an interpreter if she would have a CI.

In the Amazon we tried to explain that next to a CI the child would also need sign language and deaf culture. Unfortunately, they did not understand this.

Codifying SASL: An overview of Research and the Way Forward - Naomi Janse van Vuuren & Lorato Rasebopye

Currently there is a conversation happening with the SA government on the SASL as a school object. This was also discussed in 2009 in SA parliament. Often the question is raised what is SASL exactly and what does it look like. This calls for the need to have SASL codified, so we can show the structure of SASL and other aspect.

In the presentation a very detailed overview of the SASL research of the past 25 years is given. The research is grouped by the different categories, such as morphological, lexical, syntax, etc. The current research (Fourie, 2011) is done on the  variation and standardization in sign languages & lexicographical model for a school dictionary.

In the second part of the presentation it was presented that there are 1.609.386 Deaf South Africans (Heap, 2003). The presenter works at (...) university at the SASL department where she works with three other deaf teachers.  There are five universities who conduct research on SASL in SA: Free State, Witwaterstand, (...)

There are some small pilot studies now carried out. In one project a comparisson is made of the construction of SASL, BSL, and AUSLAN. Until today only two publications published on SASL. In the current research we focus on the syntax of SASL and look if there is diversity in terms of school language policies. In addition, we will also look at oralism versus signing. Another area we are looking at phonology, and how we can develop new classifier handshapes in SASL, since currently we copy these mostly from other sign languages. We also would like to look at the lexicography and develop an electronic database. The presenter gives examples of signs that were copied from other sign languages, but are now newly being used which have no relation to other sign languages.

The presenter states that the Deaf SASL users are and will be involved in this research. In addition, we must collaborate in SA to undergo this development and research of SASL.

The New Zealand Sign Language Act & UNCRPD - Rachel Noble

In New Zealand (NZ) there are three official languages: English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). The law says that they are equal in status.


  • Maori Language Act: 1987
  • NZSL: 2006 recognised
  • UNCRPD signed by NZ in 2007 and ratified in 2008

The NZSL Act took about 20 years of lobbying and advocacy. There were Deaf consultations with the Deaf community. The Deaf community requested several aspected to be incorporated in the NZSL act, but unfortunately not all requests were honoured.

In the act it says that NZSL is an official language and the first and preferred language of the Deaf community. It also gives the right to an interpreter in legal settings and states that government services should be available for all deaf citizens. There were also limitations to the act such as limited funding.

The presenter then made a comparisson between the Maori Language Act and the NZSL act.

The new UNCRPD now brings new items such as accountability of the government. At this moment the NZ government is now in the process of writing up the UN report. The report presents the results of the implementation of the UNCRPD. The presenter gives an overview of the parties involved in NZ in the CRPD monitoring process.

The NZSL Act and the UNCRPD have complementary relationship. The NZSL Act acknowledges us and gives us as sense of pride and belonging. The UNCRPD provides a mechanism to enforce the realisation of our rights ( and aspiration). Both are valuable tools for the NZ Deaf community.

Can an equality of condition for signed languages advance equality for Deaf communities - Joahn Bosco Conama

Deaf people do not only want their sign language recognised, but they also want equality.

If you look at the concept of signed languages as a basis for equality we see ttheWFD resolution in 1991, the EUD with EU parliament resolutions in 1988 and 1998. But all the resolutions are not defining what equality means for Deaf people.

There is a global desire among Deaf people for equality, and the way to achieve this seems to be through the recognition of sign language.

The general critique is:

  • Are they sufficient to advance equality?
  • Equality remains exclusive though collective sense of pride / confidence occurred
  • Legally, SL users are not better than in previous situations
  • Education wise, SL user rights are still expendable.
  • Socio economic status appears to be lower than hearing people, although there are individual successes

Even though SL is legally recognised the Deaf community is not receiving equality. So SL recognition is not the only way to get equality.

The presenter then gives an overview of the different acacemic critiques given by various academics from different nationalities. The academic critiques elaborate why sign language recognition does not support the equality rights of deaf people.

One can see that the legally recognised sign languages are often excluded from language policies at an operational level and are often administered under the framework of disability policy. Deaf people seem to accept this for pragmatic reasons, considering it at least as one step forward.

The presenter then proceeds to propose an equality framework of three levels: equality of condition, liberal egalitarianism and basic equality.

  1. Basic equality: basic respect
  2. Liberal egalitarians: universal citizenship, toleration of differences, public / private distinctions
  3. Equality of condition: Universal citizenship, celebration / acceptance of diversity, redefined public/private distinctions, critical dialogue
The presenter then gives an overview of the equality framework linked to the status of sign languages. 

We must have a debate on the equality of condition and less on the recognition of sign languages.

This lecture is dedicated to the memory of late Laura Sadlier (RIP)

Deaf-Gain: why the world needs Deaf people - Dr. Dirksen Bauman & Dr. Joseph Murray

Joe Murray starts the presentation with explaining the title of the presentation. The first draft title of this presentation was "Does the world need deaf people?". In the past the response to this was that Deaf people need to be cured, but we want to not look at it as a hearing loss, but actually something that the world can gain from Deaf people. We would like that the philosophy that focuses on "hearing loss" changes to something positive on how we can actually help the world gain something from our deafness.

So, Dirksen Bauman and Joe Murray have developed the concept of "Deaf gain". There are three concepts related to this concept:

  1. Deaf Benefit: what do Deaf people gain from being Deaf
  2. Deaf Contribute: what can Deaf people can contribute to the world
  3. Deaf Lead: how can we as Deaf people lead the world
Deaf Contribute: language
There are many ways that Deaf people can contribute to the world. Language is the channel by which we can contribute to the world. Language has mostly been viewed as a spoken language, and now after many years of research the world is now recognising sign language as an equal to spoken language as well. Humans have the capacity to communicate in sign and spoken languages. Joe Murray then gives examples of the various signing committee around the world, such as Martha's Vineyard. The main concept Murray and Dirksen Bauman would like to propos is: To sign is to be human.

Deaf contribute: space
The world is mostly designed by hearing people. When five years ago Gallaudet University asked a group of 20 people what an ideal building would look like, all the persons independently gave the same reply: the shapes would all be round. One example of this is seitting at a round table, which is easier to converse at than at a square shaped table. 

Deaf benefit: visual thinking
Deaf people's brain have the capacity to process more visual information by the use of perifirial vision. 

Deaf benefit: manual thinking
There is a significant contribution to the understanding by the messages coming through the hands. An example was given that also hearing children have increasing learning through signs or sign language.

Deaf Benefit: transnationalism
Joe Murray emphasized the gain of being together at an international conference. Deaf persons can communicate with any other deaf person even though we are from different countries. We benefit from being Deaf together. 

Deaf Benefit: collectivism
An amazing example is that deaf participants from North and South Korea met here together for the first time after 50 years. The meeting took place last night and the Deaf participants stated that they still feel part of one nation. Deaf people share a common space, a common way of communicating. etc

Deaf  Lead: visual manual education
Deaf education should not be looked at something that is filling a special need of deaf persons, but let's look at the potential of deaf children and see how society can gain from deaf persons. Deaf education should cultivate and exploit the potential of deaf children: let's develop manual and visual education. We believe that education for deaf students but also for hearing students should become visual manual education. 

Deaf lead
Deaf people can lead the way on the change of the world. We can teach hearing people on how they can contribute in the same way. We would like to propose that deaf children are educated internationally, not education in one country, but why do we not work towards a global education. Deaf people can lead the way on this change of education. 

Deaf lead; deaf gain economy
We would like to ask Deaf people how they can contribute to the world economy through their capacities of being Deaf. Through the teaching of baby signs we also see that the world is accepting sign language more, and Deaf people have contributed in this way to the economy. Hearing parents are now teaching baby signs to their hearing children. We can also imagine that Deaf people can develop Deaf Gain Video Games, especially thinking of the strong perifirial vision deaf people have. We can also imagine that for example there will be Deaf Gain Gestural Interface developed for smart phones or tablets. Another contribution could be to architecture and urban planning. For example to have the requirement of having a deaf architect involved or a deaf person approving the design of the building. Deaf persons can also contribute as lighting consultants or as designers, since the 3D concept is well developed with deaf people. Or the area of film and cinema can be a good area of Deaf people contributing. Another opportunity would be as business networking consultants, such as how to communicate internationally with Deaf people. 

Deaf lead: Human Rights
The focus of the congress is much on human rights. So we as Deaf people throughout the world can contribute to human rights collectively. We can make a contribution to the world, regardless of our disability, or even because of our disability.

Conclusion: Deaf gain is human gain
So we think that Deaf people can contribute considerabley to the world. Deaf persons should not be eradicated from the world. We need bio diversity in the world. The world would not be the same without Deaf people. The world cannot continue without Deaf people. 

In short: deaf gain, is not only benefiting Deaf people, but Deaf gain is human gain. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

New era - new changes - Nigel Howard

This is a follow up of the presentaton held earlier today by Nigel Howard.

In this new era we must change the mindset of people from the concept of disability to ability. In addition, we must change the perception from inability to capability.

You must decide amongst yourselves what kind of changes you want to happen. And then you must initiate the changes you want to happen and be united and consistent with the changes.

What is essential is that all associations work together: deaf association must work with interpreters, parents of deaf children, individuals and groups, local, national and internationally.

One way of making change happen is through networking, such as the use of internet, information and resource sharing and informing the key political leaders.

The tools to assiist in this change are the WFD resolutions which were adopted at the 15th WFD Congress in Madrid  and the UNCRPD.

The next thing is that we must have actually change happen. We must be positive, proactive and constructive. When you go back home then share your information with the persons in your country and with other parts of the world. The world needs you to make change happen. Do not sit back, but participate. You are yourself responsible to make this happen.

With the support of the declaration that was made at the ICED convention in Vancouver on 19 July 2010, we can make change happen.

Markku Jokinen, outgoing WFD president, was then invited to come to the stage. Markku Jokinen restated that individuals can make the change happen, or initiate the change. By collaborating, from person to more, we can make change happen. Markku Jokinen received the book from the ICED congress where 530 signatures were collected. Following the conference more signatures were collected, we now have a total of  8575 signatures. The signature book will be at the WFD stand during the currrent congress. During the coming four years we will collect more signatures from across the world. Anyone can sign the book to show their support for the change.

Deaf education - Lucas Magorigwa

The presenter from South Africa  Lucas Magorigwa is presenting on the deaf education situation in South Africa.

Although South Africa has achieved many things for Deaf people, the challenges in education in South Africa are still there. Since 1994 we have signficant achievements, such as access to education, SASL recognised, in service training is encouraged, deaf teachers are trained, and SASL interpreteres are made available.

The challenges that we face are that Deaf learners are not motivated. And the teachers, parents and public in general have low expectancies of the Deaf childe. We also do not have montoring system, in which we can see that what we planned is actually achieved

The presenter is scetching a scenario to clarify: there are many deaf students who do not complete schooling.. The higher the school level the higher the drop out rate is of the deaf students

Achieving quality education means that we need good school management, we need to involve parents in the education, we need to have high expectations, and the teachers need to be fluent in sign language. We need to be able to motiveate deaf learners to become deaf teachers, but we have not been successful in this so far.

Nelson Mandelao once said: "Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world." This means we need to use this for our deaf children.

When we look at the theme of the congress Global Deaf Renaissance (GDR), we can say that if we have::

  • No quality education = No GDR
  • No passion for the teaching profession = no GDR
  • No fluency in SL = No GDR
  • No postiivve role models = no GDR
  • No positive thinking = no GDR

To move forward, we need to give deaf children role models and we need:postiive thinking. Because when we face a problem, we think we cannot win. Or if we think uniiversity is difficult, we cannot pass. So we need equality between deaf and hearing communities.

In conclusion the presenter states that GDR means:

  • Quality deaf education
  • Ending oppression of deaf people
  • Standing up for ouselves
  • Bulding a better life for all deaf people all over the world

"We can make a change,.we can make a difference"

Deaf people & multi-lingualism - Kristina Svartholm

In South Africa there are 11 official languages: there are three languages fully recognised and  also South African Sign Language (SASL).

In 1996 the legislation came through in South Africa (SA) and since then multilingualism is full accepted. English is the dominant language in SA.

In Sweden SL got recognised in 1981 and in 2009 it became a part of the language act. Swedish, and five minority languages are mentioned in the law in addition to a special passage on sign language. In the act it says that anyone who needs sign language should be given the opportunity to develop and learn sign language. The language act does not say they have to learn sign language, but they have to be given the opportunity

English is not recongisned in Sweden in the language act. but it is used in many settings, such as university. The higher you get in education the more English is used. Because of the importance of the use of English this is also compulsory for deaf children. Deaf children learn first SL, then Swedish and then the third language is English.

In countries as the USA and the UK it is also important to learn another language besides English. Learning more languages than one is imporant for international communication and contact.

The presenter then continues and explains the triangle of learning three languages. The three languages go together and they assist the language learner to understand more about the three languages.

I support the definition of multilingualism in which you can understand more than two languages fluently and meaningfully. It is imporatn that the wishes and the needs of the language learner are forefronted and not what other people think is best for the language learner. This is the free choice of linguict identity as a basic human right. each person shoul decide on that identity themselvis.

In Sweden there are currently 8 to 10 hearing sign lanuage users to each deaf person, so the deaf sign language users are a minority among the total group of sign language users

In Sweden now 90 percent of all deaf children receive a CI, some of these children do receive sign language at an early age as well, but some parentss wait to see what the result are of the CI.

In the future there will be more late leaners of sign language, due to the increase of CI users, but there will also be children  that come to deaf schools, because they have not acquired Swedish enough to manage. This means we will have to have adapted education for the late sign language learners.

The question is if sign language will survive in the future? In order to have a better understanding of this it is fundamental to understand the language processes. From knowing one sign language deaf people can learn other languages.

In closing the presenter states that it is essential that we have tolerance, openness and respect for other people and for other languages.

Break time - participants from the Netherlands

Copyright: Are Deaf persons getting a fair deal? - Denise Rosemary Nicholson

Since 1998 the presenter Denis Nicholson has been lobbying for rights to copyrights for deaf persons. In her presentation the presenter will show why deaf persons are not getting a fair deal in regard to copyrights.

There are several national and international legal tools that can be used to lobby for equal rights, such as the UNCRPD and national South African laws, such as the anti-discrimination act.

World International Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Copyright is is a 'bundle' of exclusive rights that the law gives to authors and creators to protect their original works for a certain period of time. There is no international copyright law.

There are limitations and exceptions to the copyright, which in short means that the national legislators can decide what to have included in the national copyright law. Because of this the limitations and exceptions are different for each country.

All international organizations agree that there should be a balance between the copyright of the authors and the interests of the general public.

In SA the copyright expires 50 years after the author dies. This means that the work can be republished, or that it is transmitted in a different form and many other items. There are also limitations for educational purposes, such as a limited number of copies that can be made for the students in the class.

The presenter then continues to explain the issues in regard to copyright issues for deaf persons. For SA deaf people, mostly SASL is their first language. The way that deaf students learn is through a visual channel and through the use of SASL. Due to the limited number of materials in SASL the regular educational materials must be adapted for the deaf students, such as translating into SASL or adding more pictures or other graphics and then publishing it onto DVD or internet, or other visual publishing channel. Also adding audio commentary for hard of hearing students is not allowed or scanning the text or the pictures from the original is not permitted.

The above is not in accordance with the current copyright law in SA. That means that the materials cannot be translated into SASL because of the copyright that holds the original materials. This results in a very limited number of materials that is available for educational purpose for the deaf students. If the teacher wants to change this into SASL or visual form, they must request permittance from the author, which might result in a negative response or in costs that are asked for by the author, which they have any right to by the copright law.

DeafSA has to make sure that the right to translating or interpreting is included into the electronic licenses. This should also be ensured nationally and internationally. Also, as educators or other professionals in the field should ensure when they buy materials what the copyright on the materials is and what the purpose is of using that mataerial.

The presenter is urging the congress participants to lobby for  better rights for deaf users in relation to copyright laws and to strive for accessible formats for deaf people.

New era: Deaf participation and Colaboration - Nigel Howard

Nigel Howard is a trainer in a sign language interpreter programme in Canada.

Nigel Howard starts his presentation by mentioning the 1880 Milan convention. At the Milan convention 8 resolutions were passed by the hearing educators.

Since that time for a 130 years had a major implication for education of deaf people. The implications are:

  • Debilitation of identity (weakened)
  • Enervation of voice (deprivation)
  • Attenuation of community (fragmentation)
  • Relegation of language (inferior)
  • Subordination of people (subservient)
  • Patriotisation (disrespectful)
  • Infantilsation (treat like a child)
  • Simulacrumisation (image / representation of majority)
Several times it has been tried to reject the resolutions from the 1880 Milan convention, in 1980 in Hamburg and later in New York. But these attempts were unsuccessful. 

The British Columbia Deaf community took steps forward make another attempt to reject the Milan convention. This resulted in a proposal that was put forward to the ICED conference 2010 in Vancouver.. 

We considered beforehand how we wanted the rejection to be formulated, the options were either a formal regret or an apology. Since it was not a legal document, a regret was acceptable form. So, on 19 July 2010 the declaration was put forward at the ICED conference in Vancouver.

The declaration incorporated two proposals:
We asked if all person would reject all the resolutions taken at Milan 1880 and secondly we asked them to regret the implications of the Milan resolutions. 

For the future we proposed:
  • that the UN principles would be adhered to and that deaf people have the possiblity to decide. 
  • (...)
  • that all nations include sign languages of their Deaf citizens as legitimate languages. 
  • that nations will facilitate, enhance and embrace their deaf citizens as participants in society
  • that nations refer all identief Deaf infants to regional and national organizations of the Deaf, schools and btain programmes for the Deaf
  • call all nations to make every effort to ensure that their Deaf citizens obtain information about their sign language and culture (?)
  • (...)
This proposal was put forward to the ICED and signed by four persons:
  • Claire Anderson, chairperson of the ICED 2010
  • Wayne Synclair,
  • (...)
  • Markku Jokinen, WFD president
The next step will be decided upon by the deaf persons themselves, therefore a meeting is scheduled at 4 on this topic.

Transforming New Strategies from Research into Practice - Alan Hurwitz

What are the factors that make deaf education successful?

We have the responsibility to translate research into practice. For example how we can apply this in classrooms around the world. This is note easy, because research findings can cause a debate which not all agree on. But we must make an attempt to come to an agreement.

We must look at our currrent knowledge and use it accordingly. The research findings must inspire us to change.

VL2 is a research project that focuses on visual language and visual learning. There are deaf and hearing researchers working together from different universities. The aim of the project is to focus on how D/HH children learn through visual modalities. In addition, to bilingual education: how do D/HH children learn ASL and English. In short, how do D/HH children acquire knowledge in different educational settings (mainstream, deaf schools, etc). The important research question in the project how can D/HH children acquire a visual language and how can they best acquire reading and writing skills. Such as how does the brain cope with two languages.

The findings show that Deaf children have a strong visual sensitivity, this is the way they learn. Deaf children process information differently than hearing children: through a visual channel instead of an auditory channel. The findings in the project must help us understand how to teach D/HH children in for example math, language learning, etc.

It is important that D/HH children as soon as they are diagnosed with a hearing loss that sign language is offered, to help them in their learning process. Early auditory screening helps to identify the hearing loss at an early age. Unfortunately many countries do not have the resources to assist in this early identification.

Many parents want their D/HH children to receive a CI. With this development we have to think on how this  impacts the education of the children.

The children who are identified early and are offered sign language and other support services, have a chance of a greater success in education. Deaf parents are in generally scared of the influence that sign language might have on the development of spoken language. But research has shown that this has no negative impact on the spoken language development of the D/HH child.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Signmark at WFD



Liisa Kauppinen announces Human Rights Award to Markku Jokinen

CRPD: use the convention as a tool to fight for sign language rights

Several CRPD committee members call for Deaf member in 2012

CRPD rapporteur assures that she will fight for the right of deaf people

CRPD chair is calling for a deaf member for 2012 elections

Wilma Newhoudt announces UN special message: CRPD Chair

VIVA! VIVA! Bruno Druchen gets all participants cheering: VIVA!

Bruno Druchen says many thank yous to all: volunteers, WFD board, and all!

Markku Jokinen welcome speech

Markku Jokinen, former WFD president, welcomes all participants from the 132 countries on this very special Nelson Mandela day.  Markku Jokinen emphasizes that it is very important that this congress is the first WFD congress to take place on African soil:

More impressions

Performance impressions