World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) workshop: At risk of exclusion from CRPD and SDG implementation

17-18 March 2019, Nepal

The World Federation of DeafBlind (WFDB) has organised a workshop in Kathmandu (Nepal) to exchange ideas and discussions with persons with deafblindness and their organizations from India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The conversation was articulated around the presentation of the first Global report on the situation of persons with deafblindness published in 2018 by WFDB in cooperation with Sense International.

The experiences and perspectives of persons with deafblindness from South Asian countries confirmed that despite recent progress, persons with deafblindness remain at the margins of the disability movement and disability policy. Often, governments and other DPOs consider that they can use either service for blind persons and service for deaf persons. This lack of understanding and official recognition of deafblindness as a distinct disability group leads to little to no availability of data on persons with deafblindness. Discussions also centred around specific deafblind interpreting services and communication modes, such as tactile sign language.

Participants shared their experience of the lack of quality early intervention for children born with deafblindness. They also highlighted the lack of inclusive environment in education either in mainstream or in deaf schools, as the personnel in neither were aware and trained to accommodate their learning needs.

The workshop created space for those leaders to exchange on experiences in advocacy and engagement with the disability movement and consider further regional cooperation. Geir Jensen, President of the WFDB, was also invited for live interview on national television to share perspective on the situation and rights of persons with deafblindness. This provided a great opportunity to break the invisibility and lack of awareness which contribute to marginalisation of persons with deafblindness.

The workshop was made possible thanks to the logistics support of the International Disability Alliance, and to the financial support of UK DFID and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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