Development cooperation

Development cooperation

The Finnish Association of the Deaf undertakes extensive development cooperation to improve the realization of human rights of deaf people in different parts of the world.
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The majority of deaf people live in developing countries. In these countries prejudice, poverty, and a lack of sign language using peer support makes life difficult for deaf people. In worst cases deaf people live without a language or education and are isolated even from their own families. The Finnish Association of the Deaf wants to carry its responsibility for improving living conditions of deaf people also outside the borders of Finland. The association has risen to become an internationally well-known expert on sign language and deaf work.

The goal of the development cooperation is to strengthen the legislative status of signed languages and to develop access to information in sign language in the partner countries. Sign language interpreting and deaf education are central areas of development. Improving the status of deaf people often begins by establishing a national deaf association. 

As part of the Disability Partnership Finland, the Finnish Association of the Deaf has several development cooperation projects in the Balkan region, in Africa, and in Southeast Asia. Disability Partnership Finland is a cooperation organization of nine Finnish disability and patient organizations. In addition to development cooperation projects the Finnish Association of the Deaf strives to influence national development policy in order to improve the realization of human rights of the deaf. The work is carried out in partnerships with local sister organizations in the partnering countries.

The Deaf and sign language in developing coutries

In developing countries the status of signed languages is often very weak. Only a small portion of deaf children in developing countries attend school, and only a fraction of these receive education in sign language.

Knowledge about deafness is still lacking in many countries and deafness is something to be ashamed of. In worst cases a deaf child can even be hidden away. The situation is especially difficult for deaf women and girls. 

In many countries deaf people do not enjoy all the rights of full citizens. They are for instance not allowed to vote or to marry each other. The majority of deaf people also lives in great poverty. 

In developing countries the status of signed languages is often very weak. In some countries the language hasn’t even had a chance to develop, because deaf people have had no contact with each other. The weak status of sign language also means that the deaf have no role models that use sign language.

Only a small portion of deaf children in developing countries attend school, and only a fraction of these receive education in sign language. Even where there are schools or separate classes for deaf pupils, teachers rarely know how to sign. This means that few deaf people finish school. 

If a child does not have a language of his or her own it has an effect on their intellectual, psychological and social development. It results in a weak ability to understand the surrounding world and as adults they can have difficulties in coping independently with everyday functions. 

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities emphasizes the right of citizens to use their own language, as well as the child’s right to a language. The realization of these rights for the deaf in developing countries is often very unlikely. Improving the status of signed languages is of utmost importance in developing countries, and this is where development cooperation plays a pivotal role.

Cooperation projects

Strengthening the national organizations of the deaf in the partner countries, in order for them to be able to improve the life quality of their members, is central in the development cooperation projects of the association.
Downloadable files

Often the work begins with building up the organizational activities of the country. Promoting education and advocacy is especially important in the development cooperation projects. Advocacy aims at influencing authorities and the attitudes of the general public, as well as improve employment opportunities for the deaf. The projects teach sign language and deaf awareness to the deaf and their families, train interpreters, and develop primary education for deaf children.

Albania

Albanian National Association of the Deaf (ANAD) Advocacy, Organizational and Interpreter Training Project 2016-2018

The project supports the development of the Albanian National Association of the Deaf (ANAD) and its member organizations and its advocacy skills through training. The project develops sign language research, education and interpreter training activities.

In Albania deaf people’s opportunities to participate are not equal to those of the hearing population. By developing the advocacy ANAD can participate more effectively in for instance legislative processes and that way more successfully improve the status of deaf people. By developing research, education, and interpreter training, the rights of the deaf to receive education and information in sign language is improved. The project benefits the national deaf association, its members and their families, and key ministries, such as authorities in the social affairs sector and education.

The project continues the cooperation of the Finnish Association of the Deaf and the Albanian National Association of the Deaf that begun in 2000. 

The project is a part of the Disability Partnership Finland, and it is funded by the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

Cooperation partner
The Albanian National Association of the Deaf ANAD

Contact at the Finnish Association of the Deaf
Inkeri Lahtinen
firstname.lastname@kuurojenliitto.fi

Ethiopia

Ethiopian Deaf Women’s Empowerment and HIV/AIDS Prevention Project 2016–2018

The project aims at promoting the status of deaf women and reducing the spreading of HIV/AIDS among the deaf population in Ethiopia.

It is difficult for the deaf in Ethiopia to get information about infectious diseases, and the average of HIV/AIDS infections is higher among the deaf than among the rest of the population. The goal of the project is to improve deaf women's awareness of sexual and reproductive health issues as well as improve their opportunities to secure an income. The project benefits mainly the deaf women in the eight regions where the project is implemented, but also deaf men are educated on the issue of women's rights and HIV/AIDS.

The project continues the cooperation of the Finnish and Ethiopian associations of the Deaf that began in 2004. 

The project is a part of the Disability Partnership Finland, and it is funded by the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

Cooperation partner
Ethiopia National Association of the Deaf, ENAD 

Contact at the Finnish Association of the Deaf
Katarina Butera
firstname.lastname@kuurojenliitto.fi

 

Cambodia

Deaf Empowerment and Awareness in Cambodia 2016 – 2018

There are approximately 50 000 deaf and hard of hearing in Cambodia. Of those only a small percentage useS sign language, has had access to education, or has even met another deaf person. The majority of the deaf live in extreme poverty.

The current project is a continuation of the cooperation that has begun with the deaf community of Cambodia in 1999, and it is a part of a long term cooperation plan. The goal is to increase the independence of the deaf as well as help them develop closer ties to their communities in Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham and Kampot, where the project is implemented.

The goal is to improve deaf awareness in Cambodia by disseminating information about deafness, deaf rights, and sign language. The project also strives to develop the collective deaf identity by strengthening the deaf community. The goal is also to increase the independence and improve the living conditions of the deaf in Cambodia.

The project is a part of the Disability Partnership Finland, and it is funded by the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

Cooperation partner
Maryknoll Cambodia 

Contact at the Finnish Association of the Deaf
Johanna Karinen
firstname.lastname@kuurojenliitto.fi

Kosovo

Kosovo Association of the Deaf (KAD) Advocacy, Organisational, Sign Language and Interpreter Training Project 2013–2015

The project supports the Kosovo Association of the Deaf (KAD) by training local member associations, supporting advocacy and administration, and developing Sign language research, production of teaching materials, interpreter training, Sign language teacher training and the training of classroom assistants.

Access to sign language interpreter services is poor and the illiteracy rate is approximately ten times higher than that of the general hearing population. The lack of interpreter services isolates the deaf from society and illiteracy leads for instance to unemployment, which in turn leads to a spiral of poverty. By supporting the Kosovo Association of the Deaf its capacity to oversee the production of services is improved. By improving the quality of education the opportunities for the deaf to access further studies and employment are increased. The primary beneficiaries in addition to the association are the deaf and their families, as well as key ministries, such as authorities in the sectors of social affairs and education.

The project continues the cooperation of the Finnish Association of the Deaf and the Kosovo Association of the Deaf that begun in 2003.

The project is a part of the Disability Partnership Finland, and it is funded by the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

Cooperation partner
Kosovo Association of the Deaf, KAD 

Contact at the Finnish Association of the Deaf
Inkeri Lahtinen
firstname.lastname@kuurojenliitto.fi

Malawi

Organisational Development and Training Project of Malawi National Association of the Deaf

The project strengthens the Malawi National Association of the Deaf by training its Board, the employees, and the local member associations.

The opportunities for deaf in Malawi to participate are not equal to those of the hearing population. The status of Sign language as the first language of the deaf is not recognized, although Malawi has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There are still strong prejudices in relation to deafness.

The influencing and information dissemination activities of the project are reforming the attitudes of society as well as influencing decision making, developing of services, and the realization of rights.

The project benefits mainly the deaf, their families, and the national association, which has an opportunity to improve its organizational capacity. 

The project continues the cooperation of the Finnish Association of the Deaf and the Malawi National Association of the Deaf that begun in 2008. 

The project is a part of the Disability Partnership Finland, and it is funded by the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

Cooperation partner
Malawi National Association of the Deaf, MANAD

Contact at the Finnish Association of the Deaf
Ossi Oinonen
firstname.lastname@kuurojenliitto.fi

Uganda

Sign Language Training and Advocacy Project in Uganda

The aim of the project is to improve the communication skills in sign language of the deaf, their families, and public service providers. Improved skills in sign language and a secured and established status of the language supports the development of deaf children and the integration of the deaf in society. The improved status of sign language also improves the opportunities of the deaf to receive information and services in sign language. The project is implemented in areas where the deaf have no previous organized activity and where most deaf have weak or non-existing skills in sign language.

The second aim of the project is to help the deaf in the area to become organized and become able to advocate for themselves. The project advocates both on a local and a national level for improving the status of the deaf and of sign language. The influencing and information dissemination activities of the project are reforming the attitudes of society as well as influencing decision making, developing of services, and the realization of rights.

The project continues the cooperation of the Finnish Association of the Deaf and the Uganda National Association of the Deaf that begun in 2008. 

The project is a part of the Disability Partnership Finland, and it is funded by the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

Cooperation partner
Uganda National Association of the Deaf UNAD 

Contact at the Finnish Association of the Deaf
Katarina Butera
etunimi.sukunimi@kuurojenliitto.fi

 

Deaf Specific Survey - Qualitative Base Line Survey and Advocacy Tool 2014 - 2015

One of the main challenges of promoting the rights of the deaf all over the world is the lack of statistically reliable and extensive information on the deaf and sign language from a qualitative point of view. The project aims at building a series of questions suitable for the deaf, and to carry out a pilot survey on the living conditions of the deaf. The study will especially focus on how rights mentioned in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are realized in education, employment, interpreting services and access to information. 

The aim is to increase awareness of the specific requirements that need to be taken in consideration when conducting interview-based surveys among deaf people. The aim is also to give the organizations of the deaf practical tools to carry out interview-based surveys and to cooperate with statistical authorities. After the pilot survey best practices will be collected in a web-based manual that will be published in english and in international sign. This way the organizations of the deaf will have material to support their work for their linguistic rights. The pilot and the manual will benefit both the deaf and their communities, and the actors who collect data or whose activities focus on deaf communities.

The project is implemented by the Finnish Association of the Deaf together with the Albanian National Association of the Deaf and the Albanian Institute of Statistics.

The manual will be distributed through the websites and networks of the Finnish Association of the Deaf, the World Federation of the Deaf, and the Disability Partnership Finland.

This project is a part of the Disability Partnership Finland, and it is funded by the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

Manual for sign language work 2013 - 2015

The project is producing a manual on sign language work in development cooperation. The experiences and best practices of the Finnish Association of the Deaf and other expert actors in the field will be collected in the manual. The manual will be published in English and international sign.

The aim is to increase awareness of a community based approach and of the importance of sign language in development cooperation with deaf people.

The aim is also to empower the deaf community and to give the deaf tools to work for their linguistic rights. The manual will benefit both the deaf communities and actors whose development cooperation target group are deaf communities and/or whose activities are related to sign language.  

The project is implemented by the Finnish Association of the Deaf in cooperation with the Kosovo Association of the Deaf. 

The manual will be distributed through the websites and networks of the Finnish Association of the Deaf, the World Federation of the Deaf, and the Disability Partnership Finland.

The project is a part of the Disability Partnership Finland, and it is funded by the Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

Contact at the Finnish Association of the Deaf
Inkeri Lahtinen
etunimi.sukunimi@kuurojenliitto.fi

 

Working Together - Manual for Sign Language Work within Development Cooperation
  • Working Together - Manual for Sign Language Work within Development Cooperation

The web publication “Working Together – Manual for Sign Language Work within Development Cooperation” is a set of guidelines and examples of best practice on how to conduct Sign Language Work together with a Deaf Community. Sign language documentation and research is the starting point for the empowerment of the Deaf Community in Sign Language Work. This manual emphasises the importance of a community-based approach, where deaf signers are conducting the Sign Language Work in practice themselves.

Sign Language Work incorporates several important elements, and entails much more than compiling a sign language dictionary. The focus of Sign Language Work is to awaken the linguistic awareness of the Deaf Community, and to create opportunities for deaf people to learn about linguistics, research methods, and human rights issues which in turn raises linguistic awareness, capacities and skills. Sign Language Work may eventually lead to a governmental or legal recognition of a sign language.

The manual aims to share ideas about how Sign Language Work should be conducted. Deaf Community members can acquire the knowledge and skills that they need to improve their situation in society with the support of an advisor. This Balkan model of Sign Language Work presented in the manual has been implemented by the Finnish Association of the Deaf (FAD) in development cooperation projects together with the Deaf Communities in Albania and Kosovo.

In this manual we take a human rights approach; we use as our frame of reference the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The UN CRPD recognises that equality and the human rights of deaf people depend upon access to sign language. The manual also follows the policies set out by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD).

The information in the manual is available both in International Sign and in written English. Target groups of the manual are deaf people (in developing countries), advisors working with a Deaf Community, organisations and institutions funding and implementing development projects, and stakeholders and governmental institutions and representatives collaborating with Deaf Communities.

The manual is a result of cooperation between FAD, the WFD, the Albanian National Association of the Deaf (ANAD), and the Kosovar Association of the Deaf (KAD).

The seven chapters of the manual cover the following topics

  1. Introduction – framework, target groups, and key messages
  2. Basic information on sign languages and Sign Language Work
  3. Starting Sign Language Work – initial survey and planning of the work
  4. Elements needed for Sign Language Work & working methods
  5. Topics for Sign Language Work training
  6. Best practices and challenges – e.g. concerning communication, involving the Deaf Community, and implementation of the work in practice
  7. Summary “Do not” – common basic mistakes that should be avoided

 

You can find the manual here www.slwmanual.info

Page updated 26.6.2018