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World Federation of the Deaf Congress Resolution

16-22 July 2007, Madrid, Spain

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), its Members and the participants at the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in Madrid, Spain, 16-22 July 2007,

Reaffirming that deaf people are entitled to the same human rights as all social groups and that diversity is an intrinsic factor in the Deaf Community,

Recognising the importance of children and youth; deafblind; deaf with disabilities; immigrants; Indigenous peoples; Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders and Bisexuals; people in rural areas; religious minorities; senior citizens; and all deaf people as citizens of society with the same rights and obligations as other citizens,

Emphasising that by adopting positive actions, equality among all will be accelerated,

Reaffirming that multi-lingual education in sign language gives deaf and hard of hearing people the best opportunity to achieve full citizenship and enjoyment of all human rights,

Have agreed that WFD and its Members:

*Have an obligation to work together to promote government ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities thus assuring deaf people full attainment of all human rights on an equal basis with other citizens.

*Must work together as a collective group, and those from developed countries must work in close partnership with those from developing countries.

*Must adopt measures to educate and to sensitise the Deaf Community about the diverse variety of peoples and cultures within the larger Deaf culture.

*Must promote gender-equality programmes and policies to ensure the full development and empowerment of women, and adopt measures that combat violence and abuse against deaf women.

*Have responsibility to preserve, promote and protect sign languages and cultural heritages; and to formulate language policies to empower sign language, including indigenous sign languages.

*Have obligation to co-operate closely with schools and educational authorities to promote deaf children's right to receive a multi-lingual/multi-cultural education and to implement training programmes to develop healthy identities for all deaf children, their families and CODA children.

*Should also protect the rights of children with cochlear implants and other sensory modification technologies to an education in sign language.

*Are responsible to sanction the employment of Deaf professionals in all fields that have an impact on the lives of Deaf people.

*Must promote the development of appropriate training programmes and qualifications for sign language interpreters, and follow WFD principles of co-operation with interpreters.

*Must incorporate the principles of consistent application of universal design with technological innovations of new products and services.

*Must formulate a statement of Deaf bioethics concerns and priorities, and quality medical and surgical care for deaf people, based on human rights principles.

*Have obligation to establish mentorship and positive leadership programmes for deaf youth, and involve them actively in political decision-making and implementation.

*Have responsibility to promote employment and self-sufficiency through Deaf economic empowerment.

*Are responsible to promote equal access to mental health services for all deaf people.


Programmes and actions developed by WFD and its OMs must take account of all deaf people. Special attention should be given to education in both developed and developing countries in order to eliminate any further disadvantage, which brings as a consequence unemployment, poverty, poor health and the lack of self-determination.

Education for deaf people, especially in developing countries, must be an initiative of Deaf persons from that country in order to include and impart their native sign language(s) and culture.

The linguistic and cultural rights of deaf immigrants must be respected as well as assistance provided in learning the language and culture of their new country.

Sign language interpreters are a fundamental resource in achieving human rights and full access. The term sign language interpreter is a concept inclusive not only of hearing sign language interpreters but also Deaf sign language interpreters and interpreter guides for deafblind people.

Technology and e-learning offer access to information, are vital for structured and informal learning and promote independency. The principles of universal design will ensure full communication access and fulfilment of deaf persons´ human rights.

Equal and appropriate access to mental health services, through sign language and Deaf culture and by the provisioning of Deaf professional staff, is a basic human right of deaf people.

In reference to the growing demographic of an aging population, attention must be given to programmes and services for deaf senior citizens.

Sign languages serve as vital instruments to transmit culture and knowledge. The status and recognition of sign languages around the world will be strengthened through language policies, research and the preservation of and the teaching of sign languages. Sign languages should be a part of all national curricula.

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), its Members and the participants at the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf agree to promote and implement this Congress Resolution to all governments and authorities, demanding respect for the realisation of HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH SIGN LANGUAGES.

What is Audism ? What are they of those Details ?

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Key Issues linking to International Sign Language Rights Movement

Key issues for public to understand the serious concerns identified by
Deaf people and Deaf communities globally:

1. Language cleansing (i.e. downsizing, discouraging, eliminating or depriving sign language without knowing its serious implications)

Fact: Many deaf children with cochlear implants are discouraged and deprived from learning and using sign language, which impacts their linguistic and mental health development and leads to serious literacy, mental health and social welfare issues that hinder them from getting higher education or employment opportunities.

2. Transition planning (i.e. refusing to develop and implement transition planning for those deaf children who have not succeeded in spoken language programs)

Fact: Many deaf children who have not succeeded in spoken language programs are still not being allowed to learn and use sign language because there are no transition planning policies in the Infant Hearing Program and its Communication Supports Program.

3. Informed Information/Decision (i.e. many new parents of deaf children are not aware of potential risks/side effects of Auditory Verbal Therapy(AVT) programs until their children experience mental health and language problems in their later life. There is no checklist for parents of deaf children to identify mismatched communication and acting-out behaviours.)

Fact: No information regarding the harmful effects of AVT and preventative mental health information is available to new parents of deaf children until their children reach their teen years and begin to experience difficulties. Many new parents of deaf children and professionals in the field of the health and education of deaf people are not informed of a full spectrum of information. Many are still not aware of (or avoid learning about) the realities, possibilities and accomplishments of Deaf people. They fear losing their jobs to Deaf people or losing their children to the Deaf community.

4. Misleading Information about implications of sign language (i.e. speech, language and intelligence development are compromised by learning/using sign language)

Fact: Parents of deaf children are often not aware that there is no research or empirical studies to support this perception for those parents of deaf children who choose to pursue to both AVT and ASL services. In fact, research studies show that using sign language greatly benefits deaf children's linguistic, speech, intelligence and academic performance.

5. Audism and Discrimination against Deaf people who use sign language If Sign language is so evil that it must not be taught to deaf people, then why do the same schools that refuse to teach it to deaf students have no trouble teaching it to non-deaf high school and adult students? Why do medical professionals and early childhood educators zealously campaign against teaching Sign to deaf children, yet enthusiastically support teaching it to non-deaf children because it has been proven to accelerate brain development and to overcome other kinds of communication disabilities such as autism? Why do bilingualism advocates push vigorously for non-deaf infant second-language training, yet at the same time the audist establishment pushes vigorously for teaching deaf infants only spoken language? The answer to all these questions is simply audism. Audism refers to discrimination based on a person's ability to hear. Like all forms of discrimination, audism is grounded in misconception and misunderstanding, often disguised in sentiments of concern for safety, unawareness of accommodations or perceived undue financial hardship in providing accommodations. When discriminatory beliefs give rise to discriminatory actions, unfair limits and barriers are imposed. An example of this would be a statement such as, "Deaf children with cochlear implants can't learn sign language."

Fact: It is okay for hearing babies to learn sign language but deaf babies are discouraged from learning sign language. Discrimination issues are examples of promoting a "one-sided" system, banning deaf children with cochlear implants from receiving ASL services, and avoiding criteria for success and transition planning for deaf children/students who are not succeeding in spoken language programs. This is clearly a form of discrimination, like that of ASL cleansing, which deliberately weakens the rich language and cultural heritage of the Deaf community. It puts deaf children's language access and mental health at risk.

6. Legal Case: Provincial Court of Saskatchewan (August 19, 2005) Judge Orr recognized that physicians and medical personnel, audiologists, educators, child protection workers and others are undoubtedly caring and capable professionals. It was clear that, throughout, as they should, these people acted in strict accordance with the policies, directives and mandates of the governmental or other bodies for which they work. Unfortunately, the best efforts of these fine people failed to avert a terrible disaster in the life of a little deaf boy.

The judge ruled that American Sign Language (ASL) must be offered to Deaf children as a communication option in the early years. This the clear message contained in a landmark Saskatchewan court decision. At issue in this court is the philosophy of Saskatchewan Pediatric Auditory Rehabilitation Centre (SPARC), the publicly funded pre-school program offered to deaf children in the province. SPARC follows the the restrictive "auditory-verbal" approach which focuses only on restoration and remediation of hearing and speech.

Fact: Sign language is clearly a human right and educational right of Deaf children.


See the World Federation of the Deaf's Policy Statement on Education Rights for Deaf Children at:

World Federation of the Deaf's Fact Sheet on Sign Language:

International Sign language Right Movement

Links to Sign Language Right Movement
Ella's Flashlight Website !!!!

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