To our national, regional and international friends, the worldwide Deaf Community,

At the last General Assembly of the World Federation of the Deaf, country members voted that the Turkish Federation National of the Deaf have the privilege to host the XVII World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in Istanbul, Turkey. The official dates for the World Congress are 28th July to 2nd August, 2015.

In my first term as President of the WFD, it is a great honour for me and the WFD Board to welcome all WFD members and friends to join the World Congress in Turkey. I have visited Turkey myself and know that it is an exceptional place. Turkey in July 2015 will be exciting because of the Congress, but it is also a wonderful country to visit, so there are two excellent reasons to join us at the World Congress. This is the first time WFD has had an international congress organised at the gateway of Europe and Asia and we are very proud to have Turkey welcoming the global deaf community to their region.

While I am writing this, our teams are working hard to get Istanbul ready to host thousands of people from all over the world. The congress is not only oriented to attract deaf people, but also to welcome everyone especially parents and families of deaf people, interpreters, different professionals who work with deaf people and government officials.

As you will remember, 133 country members at our WFD General Assembly in South Africa adopted the new vision for the WFD for 2011 – 2015: Deaf people have full human rights in an equal world where they and their sign languages are recognised and included as part of human diversity.

The WFD Board is honoured to approve the theme for the World Congress: Strengthening Human Diversity. This is a twofold call.  First, to recognise deaf people as a part of

human diversity.  And second, to recognise and strengthen diversity in every deaf community globally, including children, youth, senior citizens, women, LGTB people, deaf people with disabilities, deafblind people and CODAs, whether in developed or developing countries, and to continue working together in the areas of sign language, deaf studies, education, employment, accessibility, technology, health and bioethics.

Of course this is a call to continue our important work to achieve equality for deaf people based on the international treaty, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you all to start making your travel plans for 2015 so that we can all come together to create an unforgettable experience – and naturally also so that you can visit Turkey, one of the most beautiful countries in the world!

See you there!

Colin Allen President
World Federation of the Deaf
31 January 2013


I am Ercüment TANRIVERDİ, the President of the Turkish National Federation of the Deaf (TNFD) and the Chairman of the Organization Committe for the 17th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf.

As you know, Istanbul/Turkey is waiting for the 17th World Congress for the Deaf because Turkey was entitled to host this year’s Congress, in the previous one organized in South Africa, in 2011. From my point of view, the 17th World Congress is of crucial importance for the deaf..

Although sign language was officially recognized in Turkey, there are still a lot of significant problems in the field of education. Despite the recognition of this language, the activities to put it into practice are advancing very slowly. In addition, the strides made about the social lives of the deaf people in Turkey are very slow, too. Though we, as the Turkish National Federation of the Deaf (TNFD), have warned the government several times about these matters and received such answers as “You’re right, we will resolve this issue.”, there is no concrete solution in our hands. We indicate that there good examples about deaf people in the world, as well bad ones, however we want to be a developing and reforming country in this regard. We aim that when the deaf people from all around the world come to our country, the Turkish Government and Turkish nation could see the good examples and how they have surmounted the difficulties in education, how they developed their social lives and thus they distinguish the differences of the deaf culture and change their old fallacies at the same time. We hope to achieve this.

Having an outstanding 8.000-year history, İstanbul is a city which has hosted diverse cultures. I hope that all the deaf people coming from all around the world will be delighted to see this beautiful city.

We continue our activities with the head and the members of Executive Board for the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and we receive very important support from them. Recently, we have attended a meeting at the Ministry of Family and Social Policies of the Turkish Republic. Indicating that the area of activity of the Ministry are in paralel with the subjects that World Congress handles, we asked for assistance and support for this Congress. Our dear Minister Fatma ŞAHİN agreed and we came to a common ground on all subjects. For this reason, we are very contented that WFD is provided a firm support in this regard.

We are aware that similar problems exist in many countries in the world, as in Turkey. We hope that this World Congress that will be organized in Turkey, as the host country of this year, will contribute positively to the lives of all deaf people in the world. We become aware of the problems of these people through our dialogues with various countries and associations besides the information that the WFD provides us. We want that Turkey hosts this transformation process. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was approved by our country as a signatory state and passed from the parliament, but we rarely see related implementations in this regard.  

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