The main funder of the Finnish Association of the Deaf is Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY). The association also receives funding from ministries, municipal social services and the Finnish national betting agency Veikkaus Oy. On a project basis the association cooperates with foundations and companies. In addition, the association undertakes fund raising of its own. Privately donated funds are used for instance to support camps arranged by the association and for development cooperation.
The association has a long tradition and is rooted deep in the Deaf community. The organization was established in 1905 by the deaf themselves. Today the General Assembly and Board consist of deaf people and approximately half of the employees are deaf.
The Finnish Deaf artist Albert Tallroth (1871–1899) once said, that the Deaf must help themselves and not wait for the hearing to help them. This thought has been the guiding principle from the beginning through to today.
Sign language users encounter numerous obstacles in their everyday lives. The task of the Finnish Association of the Deaf is to monitor and promote the realization of human rights and equal opportunities for the deaf. The association assists and consults its members, and disseminates information to service providers and authorities about the wishes and needs of sign language users.
The Finnish Association of the Deaf participates actively in the preparation of legislation and follows for instance the ratification process of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities closely. Nationwide advocacy is carried out in cooperation with the local member associations and partners. Its language policy advocacy is based on the Constitution of Finland, which states that the rights of persons using sign language shall be guaranteed by an Act (17 § 3).
The association also participates actively in the international organizations of the Deaf. The extensive and highly respected development cooperation of the association strives to improve the status of the deaf and of sign languages in different areas of the world.
Malm, who had studied in Sweden, used Swedish Sign Language in the beginning, and from that the two signed languages of Finland - Finnish Sign Language and Finland-Swedish Sign Language - developed.
The first local Deaf Club was founded in the city of Turku in 1886. More clubs were quickly born in different parts of the country, and the Finnish Association of the Deaf was founded in 1905. The purpose was to unite the forces of the local Deaf Clubs spread around the country.
Even today the Deaf Clubs – which are the local member associations of the Finnish Association of the Deaf - form the foundation of the association. The highest decision-making organ is the annual General Assembly consisting of representatives of the Deaf Clubs.
The Finnish Association of the Deaf is founded by the deaf themselves. Even today the Board, the President, the Executive Director and approximately half of the employees are deaf. And since the beginning also hearing people interested in promoting the status of sign language users have participated in the work of the association.
Sign language is alive and vital in a plural, multilingual, and multicultural society. The Finnish Association of the Deaf is the leading advocacy- and service organization in its field, both nationally and internationally.
The Core Values of the Finnish Association of the Deaf are: