Over the weekend I attended the DeafView3 conference in Wellington. This proved to be both interesting and challenging with a wide range of topics covered, ranging from the changing nature of Deaf culture though to Māori deaf and indigenous Deaf issues.
There were a number of speakers from overseas, including an excellent keynote speech by Colin Allen, president of the World Federation of the Deaf on “Equality for Deaf people: How do we get there?“ which gave me and others much food for thought.
There were several key themes that came out of the conference for me, the centrality of sign language to the identity of Deaf, the need for Government to step up and implement it its commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including article 21, “to recognise, facilitate and promote sign language,” the need for our Government to sign the optional protocol to the convention, and the importance of working in partnership with other disability organisations to achieve common goals.
Following the conference, Colin Allen visited me along with representatives of Deaf Aotearoa in my office to discuss some of these issues further: