Sign Language Rights for All – World Federation of the Deaf Congress in July 2019

The French National Federation of the Deaf will host some 3,000 international participants at the XVIII World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in Paris, from 23–27 July 2019. The congress theme, Sign Language Rights for All, highlights that full enjoyment of linguistic rights is vital in facilitating the full inclusion of the Deaf Community within society.

Colin Allen, WFD President, has stated that the congress’s theme is a three-fold call for sign language rights for all to be:

  • a principle which needs to be not only recognised in international treaties and plans of action, but also translated into action by the current United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ratified by more than 170 countries) and by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
  • complementary to the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019), with the opportunity to demonstrate that all sign languages should be accorded the same status as spoken languages;
  • seen as beneficial to the global community in its entirety.

The congress will be opened by Professor Fernand de Varennes, UN Special Rapporteur for Minority Issues, Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. The programme will be presented by experts from Belgium, Brazil, Uganda, India, the UK and Lithuania, and it will cover six main topics:

  • sign language and deaf studies;
  • deaf education;
  • international cooperation and development;
  • technology and accessibility;
  • health;
  • employment.

The official languages of the congress are International Sign Language, French Sign Language, English and French. In addition to a full programme including the WFD Youth Camp and Congress, a WFD Delegates’ Workshop, the WFD General Assembly and World WFD Congress, France will host a celebration of the 230th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1789). The opening of the first French public school for deaf children and the creation of sign language in French will also be recognised.

All information about the congress can be found on


screenshot of the conference website
screenshot of the conference website
social inclusion

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