Musawa II: the First Arab Deaf Regional Conference took place in Tunis

7 September 2013
AOPD and EDF representatives

On 6 – 7 September, the Arab Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (AOPD) and the European Disability Forum (EDF) organised in Tunis “The First Regional Conference of Arab Deaf Persons: To Promote Human Rights for Deaf Persons in the Arab World”. The conference took place in the frame of the Musawa II Project, funded by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development; it gathered not only the regional representation of deaf persons of the Arab Countries but also leaders within the international movement of deaf persons like Colin Allen, president of the World Federation of Deaf, and Yannis Yallouros, EDF executive member.

The main objective of this conference was to improve the situation of deaf persons in the education, employment and the media. ICTs are improving the daily life of deaf persons, as well as the whole society, since it contributes to improve the inclusion and the visibility of the diversity.

In this first opportunity for the Arab deaf persons to meet regionally, a number of subjects related to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) was discussed; much focus was given to the sign language recognition by the Convention and how the government and the civil society must include the sign language into the variety of languages of the society.

The conference intended to strengthen and unite the voice of deaf people in the region. It was clearly stated that deaf persons encountered significant barriers in Arab societies to fully enjoy their rights.

This conference is only the first step towards the inclusion and visibility of deaf persons in Arab countries; learning from each other and breaking the barrier of silence with a joint effort is the only way to achieve the future we want.

“The Tunis conference has developed a road map to end the absence of Arab persons with deafness from events and activities related to disability rights and has led to the formation of a regional organisation of Arab persons with deafness”, said Nawaf Kabbara, president of the Arab Organisation of Persons with Disabilities

“The conference revealed the need for the recognition of sign language in Arab countries and for the accessibility of Arab people with deafness in media and public services (hospitals, courts, schools etc.) with the help of professional sign language interpreters”, stressed Yannis Yallouros, EDF Executive member.

“It is a first step into a new dawn of the Deaf Arab Spring to achieve full rights for deaf people in the Arab Region based on the World Federation of the Deaf Policy, which should be led by deaf people” underlined Colin Allen, president of the World Federation of Deaf.


Find out more about Musawa II project here


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