National Association of the Deaf

International Advocacy



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The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) represents the United States at the General Assembly and World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), which convenes every four years. The WFD is an international organization composed of 130 national associations of the deaf that, in collaboration with the United Nations, advances the human rights of deaf people worldwide. The next WFD World Congress will be held in Istanbul, Turkey from July 28th to August 2nd, 2015.

Each national association of the deaf that are part of the WFD is characterized as an “Ordinary Member” of the WFD. As one of those Ordinary Members of the WFD, the NAD works to support WFD’s 2011-2015 Action Plan and mission to promote and advance the human rights of deaf people through cooperation with the United Nations and its agencies, national organizations of deaf people, and other partners.

In an increasingly globalized world, where more U.S. Citizens are traveling abroad for work, volunteer opportunities, and leisure, the NAD recognizes the need for cross-cultural knowledge, sensitivity, and competence. The NAD encourages all stakeholders within the deaf and hard of hearing community who travel abroad to embody the principles outlined by the WFD and embraced by the NAD:

  • Human Rights: As stated by the WFD, human rights are universal and they belong to everyone regardless of sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status such as disability or deafness. On this basis, deaf and hard of hearing people are entitled to exercise civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights on an equal basis with everyone else.

Unfortunately, throughout the world, the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people are often overlooked, especially in developing countries. Societal prejudices and barriers prevent deaf people from enjoying full human rights. The major barrier for deaf and hard of hearing people is lack of recognition, acceptance and use of sign language in all areas of life, as well as lack of respect for deaf people’s cultural and linguistic identity.

The NAD recognizes that deaf women, deaf-blind people, deaf people with other disabilities, deaf people who are GLBTQ, and deaf members of minority religious, cultural, ethnic, and other sociological groups may face additional discrimination in the area of Human Rights.

In accordance with the WFD, the NAD works to promote and ensure the four basic factors which are tantamount to the protection of the human rights of deaf and hard of hearing people: the acquisition and use of sign language, bilingual education, accessibility, and access to sign language interpreting.

The NAD strongly supports U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the first international treaty to recognize the sign languages, linguistic human rights, linguistic identity, and the culture of deaf people.

  • Preservation of Indigenous Sign Languages: Much as the NAD recognizes that American Sign Language (ASL) is the backbone of the United States deaf culture, the NAD also recognizes that other deaf communities and cultural groups have a wide variety of local