Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dr Paddy Ladd's lecture in Madrid

In Madrid, Spain where the 15th Congress of WFD was held, Paddy Ladd gave a lecture after Yerker Andersson and Kim Robinson gave theirs on Sign Languages as a Human Right. "Cultural Rights and Sign Language Peoples". The abstract of the paper as printed in the WFD convention book:

"Although Deaf communities have started to fight for their inguistic rights, there has been very little consideration of whether they have cultural rights. This is in part because the concept of Deaf culture itself is recently emerged and is not yet fully understood.... This paper examines the battles initiated by other minority cultures to achieve recognition and ownership of their cultural rights. It draws on the UNESCO Convention of the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2005 to illustrate how Sign Language Peoples may fight to protect and preserve their cultural heritage, including their Deaf schools, and illustrates how the recent UN Charter of Rights of Persons with Disabilities, being focused on mainstreaming/inclusion, does not offer such protection."

Paddy spoke about current trends like tribal tattoos (I'm guilty) as an example of how people graft other cultural identity onto their own, the ongoing spread of globalization and capitalism, people losing cultures and others gaining for right and wrong reasons. Few days ago, Ridor posted Maureen Klusza's cartoon strip of a deaf baby not signing and a hearing baby using signs. Whew. I didn't realize how easy it is to borrow others'.

Don Mackay, UN Ambassador to New Zealand, one of the UN Convention's architects, at WFD's invitation, opened the week with a plenary paper (just before Yerker and Paddy's) describing his experiences with WFD and other organizations and representatives hammering out the Convention into existence. Along with other plenary speakers including Deaf lawyers Howard Rosenblum and Alexis Kashar (who presented their analysis of the Convention and how it would or would not impact the lives of Deaf around the world) - their messages retained the same. Don't treat it as a piece of paper for protection - it must be actively embraced and supported, showing it can work or what flaws may appear.

Out of 100 countries that signed to the convention, promising to uphold it to include in their legislation or reflect their existing disability laws - US of A is not one of the 100 countries that signed to it (Quatar is number 100 as of July 18). The British with its disability law already in effect since mid to late 1990s signed to it.


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