Number 44 • June December 2009

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News from World Federation of DeafBlind people

Lex Grandia reports

A range of events with 42 countries represented…

Speke Resort, Munyonyo, on the shore of lake Victoria in Uganda was the wonderful setting of a range of events organised by WFDB October 21-27 2009. 250 international participants and 150 from the host country Uganda participated. Deafblind delegates from 42 countries worldwide with interpreters and representatives from many of WFDB’s partner organisations came together for the Founding General Assembly of the new continental organisation African Federation of the Deafblind, the annual meeting of the Latin American Federation of the Deafblind, Flasc, the 9th Helen Keller World Conference and the 3rd General Assembly of the World Federation of the Deafblind.


In 2004 WFDB initiated the process of establishing an African Federation of the DeafBlind. WFDB together with partner organisations like FSDB and SHIA from Sweden, Perkins International, CBM, AFUB (the African Union of the Blind), Sense International and the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities have organised training courses and meetings of African representatives of deafblind organisations and national groups on their way to establish national organisations of persons with deafblindness.

On October 21st and 22nd, 2009 the Founding General Assembly of AFDB took place. The constitution was discussed and adopted and deafblind representatives of 12 African countries elected an Executive Board. The Executive Board should have five members, representing five African regions, but North Africa has no representative yet in AFDB, so the Executive Board has the following members:

President: Ezekiel Kumwenda, Malawi, South

Vice-President: Sansan Daj, Ivory Coast, West

Secretary General: Agnes Abukito, Uganda, East

and Board member: Edouard Massamba, Congo Brazzaville, Central.

The AFDB General Assembly adopted a resolution, which reads as follows:

1. The newly elected Executive Board shall, with immediate effect, implement a programme to built the capacity of its members by establishing national deafblind organisations in countries where they do not exist, and strengthen the existing ones.

2. The newly elected executive board shall with immediate effect establish a secretariat of AFDB to implement Deafblind programmes/projects

3. Three newly elected executive board shall with immediate effect form a financial and fundraising committee which will be responsible for mobilizing resources for AFDB programmes/projects.

4. AFDB shall assist member countries whose government has not yet ratified the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities to advocate for the ratification.

5. AFDB shall ensure that deafblind girls and women are given equal opportunities in all AFDB affairs

6. AFDB expresses its gratitude to the interim committee of AFDB and WFDB for the efforts made during its establishment.”

Flasc and EDBU

Eleven deafblind representatives from the Latin American Federation of the DeafBlind, FLASC, held a meeting on October 22nd. The board of the European DeafBlind Union, EDBU had a meeting on October 25.

The 9th Helen Keller World Conference

The theme of the HKWC on October 23 to 25 was “ The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities… changing the lives of persons with deafblindness”.

Plenary sessions discussed themes like: what is an international legal document, how does the UN system work; how can organisations of persons with deafblindness be involved in the implementation of the CRPD and the process to ratification; what happens when a country has ratified; the importance of establishing alliances with other disability organisations in the process of implementation of the CRPD and what should be changed in national legislation to address the rights of persons with deafblindness.

Workshops had different themes from CRPD like: employment, communication, information technology, legal capacity, Women with deafblindness, education, HIV/AIDS, interpretation, recognition of deafblindness and the importance of partnerships, the use of weapons that cause deafblindness.

During the Friday evening October 23, WFDB celebrated the 200 years anniversary of Louis Braille. Many participants brought examples with them to show the use of Braille in every day life.

The Saturday evening the Silent (deaf) Theatre from Uganda performed a realistic play in sign language and the Sunday afternoon was spent on a visit to the Ntinada School for the Deaf in Kampala.

WFDB 3rd General Assembly

On October 26th and 27th the WFDB 3rd General Assembly took place. Many reports were discussed and a new Executive Council and other committee members was elected as follows:

President: Lex Grandia, Denmark

Vice-president: Sonnia Margarita Vilacres, Ecuador

Secretary General: Geir Jensen, Norway

Treasurer: Christer Nilsson, Sweden

Regional representatives:

Africa: Ezekiel Kumwenda, Malawi

Asia: Satoshi Fukushima, Japan

Europe: Sanja Tarczay, Croatia

Latin America: Alejandra Caranza, Argentina

North America: Jeffrey Bohrman, USA

Pacific: Irene McMinn, Australia


Agnes Abukito, Uganda

Dimitar Parapanov, Bulgaria

Election committee:

Riku Virtanen, Finland

David Shaba, Tanzania

Miriam Torres, Venezuela

The General Assembly decided to form more thematic working groups in WFDB involving as many persons with deafblindness as possible. It was also decided, that WFDB should work on the promotion of a UN international day of deafblindness on June 27.

The WFDB General Assembly adopted a resolution with the following text:

Resolution of the Helen Keller World Conference and the 3rd General Assembly of the World Federation of the DeafBlind Munyonyo, Uganda

We, the members of WFDB gathered in Munyonyo, Uganda, representing all people living with deafblindness, considering the historical moment in which the 3rd General Assembly of our organization takes place; taking into account the challenge that the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities represents, we share the following resolution:

1. WFDB is committed to the necessity that every country in the world ratifies and implements the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

2. Persons with deafblindness and their organizations have to take the lead in the process of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in all parts of the world.

3. We identify education as a primary issue, being essential to enable inclusion of persons with deafblindness in all aspects of life.

4. In developing countries special attention should be given to the specific needs of persons with deafblindness in education, including provision of technical aids, proper materials and adequate numbers of qualified teachers and guide/ interpreters.

5. WFDB should facilitate that the Convention is accessible to all persons with deafblindness using all formats of communication.

6. To achieve a better impact at a national level, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should be translated into national languages and specific guidelines should be developed in plain language.

7. Governments should address rubella as an important public health matter that is one of the main causes of deafblindness.

8. Policies aiming for inclusion of persons with deafblindness in work and productive activities have to be promoted at international organizations like the ILO.

9. The WFDB should facilitate the formation of women groups and promote the inclusion of women in different areas as education and health care, promote the legal capacity and access to information of women with deafblindness.

10. Research and data collection that can favour the life conditions of persons with deafblindness must be supported.

The next 10th Helen Keller Conference and 4th WFDB GA will take place in Japan, in May 2013

Meeting of development partners

WFDB organised a meeting of partners in the deafblind field working in developing countries. DBI, CBM, Perkins International, FDDB, DPOD Disabled persons organisation Denmark, FSDB , SHIA; ABILIS, Sense International and AFUB participated in the meeting and presented their organisation and work.

All agreed that it is important to share information about the work in developing countries.

Lex Grandia

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