British Deaf Association hosts World Federation of the Deaf & World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section at Belfast City Hall

To celebrate the British Deaf Association (BDA)’s 125th anniversary, the BDA has hosted the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) & World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS) in Belfast from 2-6 November 2015 for the first meetings of the two newly appointed Boards. During the week-long Board meetings, numerous sessions explored changes that can be made to have a tangible impact on the lives of Deaf people around the world.

In honour of their visit, the BDA officially welcomed the 25 international delegates to Northern Ireland at a Civic Reception in Belfast City Hall on Tuesday 3 November. The BDA organised a range of speakers who presented a global picture of what is happening in the Deaf community internationally. Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Alderman Guy Spence opened the proceedings.

At the event, BDA presented a number of awards to organisations who have shown outstanding commitment to the Deaf community. These were:

  • BBC Northern Ireland – for commitment and loyalty to their Deaf customers by continuing to provide BSL on their lunchtime news, at a time when regional news broadcasters across the UK have cut this service as part of their cost-saving measures.  The award was collected by Damien Magee Editor and Jo Scott Presenter of Newsline programme.

  • Public Health Agency – for ensuring three separate pieces of information regarding health issues are accessible to the Deaf community by putting them on their government website in both BSL and ISL format.  The award was collected by Caroline Harper, Director of the Public Health Agency.

  • Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (UFTM) – for training four members of the Deaf community to become tour guides, enabling Deaf people attending the UFTM to be given information in their first or preferred language. The award was collected by Mark Irvine, National Museums NI Head of Operations.

  • Alzheimer’s Society – for delivering 17 dementia-friendly community workshops in partnership with BDA NI, resulting in over 186 Dementia Friends, producing the 'Dementia Friendly Communities for Deaf People' DVD in both BSL and ISL and committing to develop a Dementia Support Worker with a focus on Deaf people. The award was collected by Adele Doherty, Regional Operations Manager of the Alzheimer’s Society.

“We’re delighted to be hosting the newly appointed WFD & WFDYS here in Belfast – this is a really special week for us at the BDA. We’re honoured to be invited to Belfast City Hall and look forward to some thought provoking discussions on how we can help improve the lives of the Deaf community in Belfast,” said BDA Chair Dr Terry Riley OBE.

BDA Chair Dr Terry Riley OBE, Deputy Lord Mayor, Alderman Guy Spence, Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, and Majella McAteer, BDA Community Development ManagerStaff from Belfast City Council were also presented with their BSL Certificates showcasing the level of interest and commitment of public bodies in Northern Ireland to enabling Deaf people to access services in their first or preferred sign language (BSL/ISL).

“We’re pleased to welcome the WFD to Belfast and look forward to a fascinating meeting learning more about how we can help to improve services for the Deaf community,” said Minister Carál Ní Chuilín (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure).

“I am pleased to say that Belfast is becoming quite adept at hosting international Deaf conferences and events such as this one – all of which my Department has been delighted to support. This reflects our efforts to break down communication barriers and build a truly inclusive society. My Department will continue to work to promote equality for sign language users, to tackle the poverty that lack of education and access to health brings and to tackle social exclusion, not only throughout society but, within families with Deaf members.”

“I’m delighted to be a part of today’s events, welcoming the new WFD and WFDYS Boards to Belfast for their very first Board meetings and hearing more about changes that can have a tangible impact on the Deaf community here,” said Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Alderman Guy Spence.

The WFD’s & WFDYS week-long visit to Belfast includes a full Deaf social and cultural programme organised by the BDA. To mark this occasion and in honour of the BDA’s 125th Anniversary, Belfast City Hall will be lit with the ‘BDA red’ during the hours of darkness on November 3rd and many of Northern Ireland’s Deaf community are expected to visit to take photographs.

BDA, a registered charity which has been a pioneer and champion of Deaf people since it was founded in 1890, stands for Deaf Equality, Access and Freedom of Choice (DEAF). The BDA’s primary goal is to achieve legal status for BSL/ISL. The BDA champions the rights of Deaf people to use BSL/ISL as their first or preferred languages. BSL/ISL are languages in their own rights, separate and distinct from the UK’s other indigenous languages. Although the BDA is a national organisation, it was founded in 1890 by an Irish man called Francis Maginn who lived and worked for many years in Belfast.

World Federation of the Deaf is an international non-governmental organisation representing and promoting the human rights of approximately 70 million Deaf people worldwide. The WFD is a federation of 132 nations with one national member for each country. It has a consultative status in the United Nations and is a member of International Disability Alliance (IDA).

The new WFD Board was appointed at the recent WFD Congress, which took place in Turkey in July 2015; a major event that happens every four years. The UK representative on the WFD Board is BDA Chair Dr Terry Riley OBE.

For more information about the World Federation of the Deaf, please visit

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British Deaf Association hosts World Federation of the Deaf - Official & World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section at...

Posted by British Deaf Association on Wednesday, 25 November 2015