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The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is an international, non-governmental central organisation of national associations of Deaf people. WFD has a policy of closely collaborating with its member organisations. This close interaction ensures that WFD’s work truly reflects the best interests of Deaf people, by having member input from planning through implementation and follow-up. WFD also gives its member organisations encouragement and support in their own efforts and offers its expertise when organisations are launching new projects. (


Formal name

World Federation of the Deaf


Established in Rome, Italy, in 1951, WFD is an international, non-governmental central organisation of national associations of Deaf people, with a current membership of associations in 130 countries worldwide. Associate members, international members and individual members also make up WFD’s membership base.


World Congresses:

2019 France

2015 Istanbul, Turkey: Strengthening Human Diversity

2011 Durban, South Africa: Global Deaf Renaissance

2007 Madrid, Spain: Human Rights Through Sign Languages

2003 Montréal, Canada: Opportunities & Challenges in the 21st Century

1999 Brisbane, Australia: Diversity and Unity

1995 Vienna, Austria: Towards Human Rights

1991 Tokyo, Japan: Equality and Self-Reliance

1987 Espoo, Finland: One World – One Responsibility

1983 Palermo, Italy: Deafness Today & Tomorrow: Reality & Utopia

1979 Varna, Bulgaria: The Deaf People in Modern Society

1975 Washington DC, USA: Full Citizenship for All Deaf People

1971 Paris, France: The Deaf Person in the World in Evolution

1967 Warsaw, Poland: The Deaf Among Hearing Persons

1963 Stockholm, Sweden (no theme)

1959 Wiesbaden, Fed. Rep. of Germany (no theme)

1955 Zagreb, Yugoslavia (no theme)

1951 Rome, Italy (no theme)

Status of sign language

Article 6 | Languages

International Sign shall be used as a meeting language at all meetings of World Federation of the Deaf. Information, including minutes, printed materials and correspondence shall be made available in English. The registration language of the organisation is Finnish; and the language of the minutes is Finnish.



International Societies and Congresses of sign language
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