Update January 2007

01 Feb 2007

EUD Members News

Flemish Deaf History Congress

In the Flemish Deaf Community, 2006 will be remembered for a couple of highlights. Everyone of course recalls April 26 th, D-day for Flemish Sign Language (FSL - VGT). Now another date can be added to the shortlist of legendary events in Deaf History. On December 16 th, around 250 visitors were drawn to Unheard Past – Deaf Awareness in Historical Perspective, the first Flemish Deaf History congress ever. The immediate cause was the long-awaited presentation of the results of a research project that, during four years, had dug into the roots of the Flemish Deaf Community and tried to track the first traces of Deaf rights advocacy.

There was a clear geographical division between the lectures that took place in the morning and those of the afternoon. From 9 till 12 am, the floor was given to Belgian speakers, whereas the second half of the day welcomed three lecturers from abroad.

The Belgian delegates focused on the Flemish-Walloon situation. A wide variety of themes were passed in review: ‘oral’ history as a research methodology in the Deaf Community (Ingeborg SCHEIRIS and Theo SOETEMANS), Belgian Deaf initiatives during the first decennium of the 20 th century (Liesje RAEMDONCK), the archives of the Flemish Deaf Community (Bram BEELAERT) and the Walloon archives at Centre Robert Dresse (Bernard LE MAIRE). The foreign guests talked about the origins of the American Deaf-World: migration of Deaf families to Maine (Harlan LANE, US), Un derstanding Deaf lives through history (Joe MURRAY, US) and thefounding, developing and running a museum of the Deaf (Tiina NAUKKARINEN, FI).

Organizer of the event Fevlado-Diversus is pleased to see that the Unheard Past-initiative was widely applauded by a lot of members of the Flemish Deaf Community. The congress aimed at raising awareness on the importance of preserving Deaf Heritage for future generations, because there is no present or future without a past.

Written by Ingeborg SCHEIRIS – Fevlado-Diversus

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EUD News

New director for EUD

In total 28 applications had been received for the post of EUD Executive Director. The EUD Board carefully reviewed and considered all applications and decided to shortlist 5 applicants for a job interview at the EUD office in  Brussels.

An interview panel interviewed the selected applicants on 1 December 2007. The panel unanimously agreed that Mr WHEATLEY was the best candidate. This proposal was accepted by the EUD Board.

Starting on 8 January 2007, Mark WHEATLEY works as the new Executive Director for European Union of the Deaf, based in Brussels, Belgium.

With roots in Deaf community, Mark has strong background of business management from working as a company owner and managing director of Red Lizard Ltd, one of a few long-running Deaf companies in England, UK.

As the EUD Executive Director he plans to attend various European conferences as a representative of European national Deaf organisations, starting with the General Assembly in Berlin on 3-6 May 2007.

He also plans to work on various short- and long-term projects to safeguard the rights of European Deaf community, and to reshape EUD's activities next three years starting from 2008. He's already lined up meetings with representatives of national Deaf organisations, governments and governing bodies to address issues with a focus on sign language, education and human rights.

The President, and Board would like to congratulate Mark on being appointed as the new EUD Executive Director and looks forward to working with him!

Helga STEVENS , EUD President and Member of Flemish Parliament, says: “I am very delighted that EUD has found a Deaf person with such an excellent background and experience to lead EUD in the coming years as Executive Director. It will be a huge challenge for Mark but I am confident EUD is in good hands.”

Written by Mark WHEATLEY – EUD Director

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EUD President Helga STEVENS present at the Forum: “Deaf People in the Balkans”

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and the Finnish Association of the Deaf (FAD) organised a Forum: “Deaf People in the Balkans” on 10-15 December 2006 in Belgrade, Serbia. The aim of this meeting was to bring Deaf leaders together from the various Balkan countries and to discuss the country survey reports drawn up over the years 2004-2006. The main objective of the survey was to get an insight into the situation of Deaf people in the survey countries. These surveys were to provide up-to-date data useful for advocacy work. Countries present at the Forum were: Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania, and Turkey. Markku JOKINEN, WFD President, also joined the meeting.

Helga STEVENS was invited to lecture on Deaf People and European Partnerships. She gave a presentation on what EUD stands for and how EUD has achieved its objectives over the past years. It was very important for EUD to be represented at this forum as all the Deaf leaders present were very much interested in the work of EUD. At the same time they were somehow hesitant to join EUD as they felt that their countries were too far behind, compared with the member states of the European Union.

During informal exchanges Helga STEVENS got a better insight into the sometimes dire circumstances under which the National Deaf Associations have to work in the Balkan countries. Most associations receive very little to no state support for their activities so their financial base is very weak. They also continue to suffer from the aftermath of the wars in the region: weak governments, corruption, a bad economy and high unemployment, a collapsed social security system, etc. Moreover, most Deaf people were not prepared for the sudden change from communist-led states which catered for them from cradle to grave to a free-market economy where they have to look after themselves with little help from the state.

But as usual, the Deaf spirit was very good and no matter where they came from, all Deaf leaders got along very well and exchanged information and experience. Language was no barrier at all, as international sign was used and a mix of the Balkan Sign Languages which are linguistically very close to each other, a remnant from the Yugoslavian period. Of course, Turkish Sign Language stood apart there, but again, that was not a problem at all.

At the forum it was discussed whether it would be a good idea for them to establish a regional organization, grouping the National Deaf Associations in the Balkan region, since they share a common heritage and language. In this context the Nordic Deaf Council was often referred to as a good model. The Balkan NADs all also experience the same problems vis-à-vis their governments which are not ‘Deaf-friendly’ at all. This way they could assist each other in their work and share the scarce resources with regard to translation of information from WFD and EUD, etc. If it is ever set up, then EUD must be committed to supporting the new regional organization so that Deaf people in this corner of Europe get what they deserve: respect and equality and the right to use and communicate in sign language.

EUD would like to applaud FAD and the Finnish government for their financial support to the Deaf Balkans Project. Perhaps a good idea for other governments?

Written by Helga STEVENS – EUD President

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Call for interns at EUD office during summer 2007

EUD is happy to welcome one or more interns during the summer period. If you are interested in this opportunity, please do not hesitate to send us your application letter and CV.

Please note that this is a voluntary internship. Unfortunately EUD has no budget to reimburse travel costs or accommodation costs.

The EUD office is located in Brussels, Belgium.

Applications can be send to Karin VAN PUYENBROECK, EUD Administrator: kvp@eudnet.org.

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EDF News

1997-2007, EDF 10th anniversary – Let’s demonstrate the strength and unity of the disability movement

EDF is very proud to celebrate its 10 th anniversary in 2007. An anniversary witnessing 10 years fighting for disability rights in Europe and a strong united disability movement. This anniversary is YOUR anniversary celebrating your commitment and your involvement in the disability movement.

During the whole of 2007, EDF 10 th anniversary, coinciding with the European Year of Equal Opportunities and the 10 th anniversary of the non-discrimination Article 13 of the EU Treaty, will create the opportunity for all member organisations, for all European disabled citizens and their families and friends to make their voice heard through a European wide campaign“1million4disability”.

  • What is “1million4disability”?

EDF European wide campaign aiming to collect 1 million signatures in favour of European legislative measures to combat any form of discrimination against persons with disabilities, protect their rights and improve the quality of life of more than 50 million disabled citizens.

  • Why 1 million signatures?

The new European Union Constitutional Treaty, currently under ratification, includes the possibility for European citizens to table legislative proposals if supported by a million signatures collected across Europe.

  • When was the campaign launched?

The campaign was officially launched on 23 January 2007 in Brussels by a cocktail gathering EDF Executive Committee members, representatives of disability NGOs and other social NGOs, high level EU institutions officials, the press and other stakeholders.

  • Closing of the campaign and EDF 10 th anniversary celebration

On 4 October 2007, an EDF delegation will hand out the collected European citizens’ signatures to the European Commission and the European Parliament. At the same time, an outdoor gathering of hundreds disabled persons, their families, friends and allies will take place in Brussels, in the heart of the European Institutions area.

In the evening, a festive event will be organized to celebrate EDF 10 th anniversary and celebrate EDF members’ commitment and involvement in the disability movement. Delegations of EDF members and their member organisations are more than welcome to participate in this celebration. The event will also be attended by high level officials from the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, high officials from the Belgian authorities and representatives of the Belgian disability movement.

Please check the campaign website to collect e-signatures http://www.1million4disability.eu

Source: EDF Weekly Flash 01/2007

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EDF calls the German Presidency to further non-discrimination legislation in Europe

Since the 1 st January 2007, Germany took over the European Union Presidency until 30 June 2007. During this 6 months period, EDF and the German National Disability Council will cooperate very closely to increase the visibility of disability issues at EU level.

Earlier in 2006 and in view to contribute to the Programme of the German EU Presidency, the German National Disability Council, Deutscher Behindertenrat (DBR) and EDF submitted a Memorandum setting out EDF priorities under the Presidency and what EDF hopes to see emphasised in EU decision making in the next 6 months.

EDF calls the German Presidency for concrete initiatives to address discrimination and the breaking down of barriers to the social integration of disabled persons.

In particular, EDF calls the German Presidency:

  • To host a Disability Ministerial Conference on 11-12 June and making it a high-level event with concrete outcomes;
  • To give visibility to disability during the European Year of Equal Opportunities for all, its launching event on 30-31 January in January coinciding with the high level Equality Summit;
  • To prioritize measures to increase passengers’ rights in all the new European transport legislations to come;
  • To take specific legislative measures to guarantee access to information technologies and digital television to all Europeans, including persons with disabilities;
  • To mainstream disability issues at all levels in EU’s development policies in third countries;
  • To have a proactive role in initiating further European legislation in the field of non-discrimination.

Source: EDF Weekly Flash 01/2007

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European Union News

2007: The European Year of Equal Opportunities for All

The upcoming European Year of Equal Opportunities for All will be celebrated across the European Union in 2007 to draw the attention of European countries to the problems created by discrimination and the opportunities offered by diversity.

The Year will promote equal opportunities and raise awareness about the rights of everyone to equal treatment, and about the benefits of diversity. The celebration will be marked by hundreds of different activities staged throughout the European Union with all 27 EU Member States taking part.

The main aim is to reach out to the general public and therefore most of the Year 's activities will be held on a local, regional, or national level. This will be supported and complemented by several pan-European activities such as a campaign on European antidiscrimination policies and legislation or the presentation of the results of a Eurobarometer survey about European citizens’ attitudes towards and knowledge discrimination and inequality issues.

According to the new Eurobarometer 79% Europeans believe that being disabled is a real disadvantage. Furthermore, 91% believe that the European Union must do something to dismantle the existing barriers for disabled people. The “1million4disability” campaign calls on all European citizens to support the adoption of further and stronger European disability legislation in order to overcome the current situation and to make equal opportunities a reality for 50 million disabled people.

The Eurobarometer report can be downloaded from this link.

Visit the new European Year of Equal Opportunities website: http://equality2007.europa.eu

Source: EDF Weekly Flash 01/2007

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Disability Intergroup meeting – European non-discrimination legislation (Strasbourg, 13 December 2006)

The Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament held its meeting on 13 December 2006 in Strasbourg. The meeting was dedicated to the future of European non-discrimination legislation and featured presentations from the European Commissioner on Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Vladimir ŠPIDLA and Erzsébet SZÖLLÖSI of the Hungarian National Council of Federations of People with Disabilities, member of the EDF Executive Committee.

Commissioner ŠPIDLA noted that the debate on the future of the European non-discrimination was taking place in a very special context, when the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had just been adopted by the UN General Assembly. Commissioner informed that the deadline for transposition of the Employment Directive 2000 into national laws having expired in early December 2006, the Commission already initiated the first infringement procedures against 17 Member States for insufficient implementation of the Directive.

Although the reasons for initiating infringement procedures varied in all Member States, the Commissioner did comment that a significant number of Member States had problems implementing the obligation of reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities in employment.

Commissioner ŠPIDLA also informed that the European Commission was in the process of finalizing the mapping study on the future legal steps to be taken to combat discrimination in Europe. The study includes, among other things, an analysis of a disability-specific legislation. The results of the study should be made public in late 2006-early 2007.

Erzsébet SZÖLLÖSI gave a number of examples of insufficient implementation of the Employment Directive to demonstrate that it did not protect persons with disabilities enough against discrimination and resulted in unequal effect of the legislation in different Member States. Such examples included narrow interpretation of ‘disability’; misinterpretation of ‘reasonable accommodation’; insufficient sanctions; and limiting the job-seekers’ right to rely on the Directive.

Full report from the meeting is available on the website of the website of the Disability Intergrouphttp://www.edf-feph.org/apdg/index-en.htm.

Source: EDF Weekly Flash 34/2006

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Rome Treaty 50th anniversary – Launch of a special EU anniversary website

The 25th of March 2007 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which established what the European Union is today. The anniversary is a great opportunity not only to celebrate, but also to highlight what European integration process has brought to our lives since its inception. It will also be a chance to reflect on where Europe was 50 years ago, the main European Union achievements and failures and what we European citizens expect from the European Union in the future.

The objective therefore is not only commemorating a milestone in European history, but also encouraging debate, discussion and reflection on the European Union’s principles, achievements and future.

In order to commemorate this Anniversary, the Directorate General Communication of the European Commission has created a special EU 50th anniversary site, which has now been published athttp://50.europa.eu .

The main objectives of the site are:

  • To be a net-working platform with information on events on the anniversary;
  • To provide general background information on the EU and 50th years of European cooperation;
  • To highlight the benefits that European integration has brought to its citizens;
  • To reflect on where we are heading and what we expect from Europe in the future.

The site has several sections dedicated to the celebrations, anniversary-related news stories and European Union basic facts, history and achievements. It is available in 22 European Union official languages and will be constantly updated for the duration of 2007. A vast number of searching criteria is offered to users in order to locate the type and the details of information they might be looking for.

People are invited to participate in this anniversary by communicating them information on possible anniversary-related festivities, conferences, workshops, debates, or
on other pl anned activities related to the role and the future of the European Union, organised or co-organised by your organisation, in your country or elsewhere. This information will be published in the appropriate section(s) of the 50th anniversary site.

Source: EDF Weekly Flash 02/2007

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Deaf News around Europe and the World

Pedro will be one of the “stars” of the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf

Pedro, an animation character inspired by a 7-year-old Deaf child, will be the image of the 15th World Congress of the WFD, which will bring together thousands of Deaf people worldwide in Madrid, from 17th to 22nd of July 2007.

Pedro was born in Valencia, however, he is well-known throughout Spain and also abroad. He has parents but his true family is the International Deaf Community, which has adopted him as a symbol of the struggle for participation and barriers removal. During the past Congress, held in Montreal, Canada, Pedro was the centre of attention and he supported CNSE’s bid before hundreds of delegates from all around the world. They loved Pedro and that is the reason why he will become the official symbol of Madrid meeting.

According to experts, Pedro’s great success is due to “the normalised image of Deaf people he conveys”. His enthusiasm, his willingness to participate, to enjoy himself, to communicate are similar to any other child’s. We just have to get to know him and respect his individuality and Pedro’s dream will become real.

Something which is not a dream is the image of Pedro in all Congress merchandising: T-shirts, key rings, posters…

With him, the value of diversity will reach everyone.

Source: Press release by CNSE (Confederación Estatal de Personas Sordas)

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Conte Sur Tes Doigts

Who thinks it’s too difficult to make projects and have reflexions about deafness at a European level? For sure we don’t.

“We” is the French organization “Conte Sur Tes Doigts”, based in Lille. Our aim is to gather hearing and deaf people through cultural and artistic activities.

From June 18 th to June 24 th 2007 we are organizing a seminar about the accessibility of culture for deaf people (especially young deaf people) in Europe. During one week, we’ll have conferences, activities, discussions and workshops to deal with this subject. The idea is to share our experiences and our works, to confront our views and, if all is best, to set ground for further fruitful cooperation.

This project is organized in the frame of a European Youth Project, which means that the partakers only have to pay 30% of the price of their travel to France. Each structure engaged has to send two people, one hearing and one deaf person. We already have people from all parts of Europe, such as Finland, Slovakia, Greece, or Belgium but still, the broader our range is, the more interesting it is! So if this brief presentation puzzles you, don’t hesitate to ask us information at contact@cstd.fr. We really need to know as soon as possible how many people we can count on. We would be delighted to answer any of your questions, and to send you the full presentation documents and participation form.

Written by Tiffanie (Conte Sur Tes Doigts)

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Equal rights for Deaf in Canada

A Federal Court Justice ruled that the federal government must provide sign language services for the deaf in all government services.

Through the instrument of its judicial system, Canada is about to take a major step forward in becoming a more inclusive society.

A Federal Court justice ruled this month that the federal government must provide sign language services for the deaf in all government services. Ottawa has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.

Hitherto, deaf people had to pay for their own interpreters in such official dealings.

While implementing the decision is likely to be costly -- tens of millions of dollars, or even more -- it is no more than just that the deaf should receive what amounts to the same treatment as other Canadians. Their disability is not their fault, and it is not right that they should have to pay for their own interpreters, who typically charge $40 to $60 an hour. Many, no doubt, can't afford it.

All federal services are embraced by the ruling -- passport offices, RCMP detachments, border crossings and so on.

"It has been a long time . . . to fight, but right now we don't have to. It is a victory for us to know (what) we have accomplished," said Sheila Carlin, president of the Canadian Association of the Deaf, which represents deaf, deaf-blind and hard-of-hearing people.

"I would like to see all of us have equal rights because we all are human!"

Scott Simser, the deaf lawyer who argued the case before Justice Richard Mosley, said Public Works and Government Services Canada will have a fight on its hands if it appeals the ruling.

The judgment "means no more excuses, no more delays," Simser said.

In Canada, deaf signing is done in American Sign Language or la Langue des Sourds du Quebec.

While the change is a welcome breakthrough for the deaf, it does mean a heavy drain on the public purse. Ottawa should make a goodwill effort to comply, but at the same time, it should be prudent with public funds.

For instance, there would appear to be no need for all government offices to have interpreting staff on hand on a full-time basis. Arrangements should be made to have interpreters on standby.

The deaf in Canada number 300,000, or about one per cent of the population. They have had a long wait, but at last they are about to become more fully a part of our national family.

Source: London Free Press (http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/Opinion/Editorials/2006/08/27/1778913.html)

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Other News

DEAFVOC project

The Curricula: “Sign Language as a Mother Tongue” and “Written Language as a Second Language for the Deaf” as well as the Teacher’s Guide have been produced as part of the DEAFVOC projectwww.deafvoc.fi (a Leonardo da Vinci language competence project partially funded by the European Union) and can be found at the project-website under the heading “products”.

The main objective of the project was to develop language teaching in the vocational education and training of the Deaf for better access to education and employment. Year 2006 the project was awarded with the European Label, an award given for the most innovative language projects in EU countries. The European Label was given to the project especially for the curriculum work.

Referring to the above, you are holding in your hands a unique publication, which we hope will be advantageous in the education of the Deaf also in your country. At the moment the publication is available in Czech, English, Finnish, Germany and Greek, but all EU member states are encouraged to translate it into their national languages and modify the contents to meet their specific needs.

Source: Mag. Christine KULTERER - On behalf of the DEAFVOC project

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