At World Federation for the Deaf conference, finally, an Israeli speaker

“Here we leave politics and the relations among states outside the door and simply try to promote the rights of deaf people around the world..."

November 12, 2017 17:27
1 minute read.
Shirley Pinto

Shirley Pinto with a representative of Qatar.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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For the first time in 25 years, an Israeli was invited to represent her country at the World Congress for the Deaf, and for the first time ever, was invited to speak from the podium.

Shirley Pinto, the founder of the Israel Center for the Study of Sign Language, attended the event in Budapest late last week, where the social activist was warmly received by representatives from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Qatar and other Muslim countries.

The World Federation of the Deaf is one of the oldest organizations to bring together people with disabilities from around the world. The WFD was established in Rome in 1951, in recognition that hearing- disabled people everywhere face barriers, lack full access to the public sphere and do not enjoy equal rights.

The WFD has consultative status with the UN and is a founding member of the International Disability Alliance.

The federation promotes human rights for deaf persons in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.

Pinto, who was born deaf, represented Israel at the congress that was held last Wednesday through Friday.

She spoke on-stage for the first time in the history of the event and the federation, appearing alongside representatives of Qatar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Russia, Austria and some 80 other countries.

“I am excited to represent Israel at the congress and am aware of its great importance,” Pinto said. “Here we leave politics and the relations among states outside the door and simply try to promote the rights of deaf people around the world, while learning about what happens in every country and trying to adopt successful models.

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