The main aim of the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS) is to advocate the human rights of deaf youth in the world. Our aims are in accordance with those of the WFD.

The Youth Working Group was established in 1987 in Espoo, Finland. The working group had its meeting in 1988 in Helsinki, Finland. The WFDYS was eventually formed prior to the World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf during 1995 in Austria. The 4-year term WFDYS Board has at least eight mandatory meetings, two per year.

Our responsibilities involve WFDYS Children Camps for age 9 to 12, WFDYS Junior Youth Camps for age 13 to 17 and WFDYS Youth Camps for age 18 to 30. All of these camps are hosted every four years. The objectives of the camps are to provide leadership training for deaf youth, support for youth organizations and advocacy, networking, and cultural exchange. It is all about leadership, educating on human rights to strive for equality, and the celebration of our linguistic and cultural identity.

We, the WFDYS, are currently one of the partners of International Coordination Meeting of Youth-led Organisations (ICMYO) and it is part of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth. We, the youth-led organisations promote the Youth21 initiative and have adopted an official position on a Permanent Forum on the Youth, a permanent mechanism through which young people can become involved in United Nations policymaking. With the permanent forum on youth we reaffirm the importance of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), and consider the urgent need of effectively implementing it through plans, mechanisms and programs at all levels, including our role in guiding United Nations, inter-governmental processes and youth programmes of inter-governmental and international organisations. The WFDYS believes the right to education and active participation of the youth in the decision making process are the key to unlock the door of freedom and equality for the youth with different abilities.


What is WFD?

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 133 countries worldwide. Associate members, international members and individual members also make up WFD’s membership base.

WFD’s philosophy is one of equality, human rights and respect for all people, regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual preference, age and all other differences. WFD supports and promotes in its work the many United Nations conventions on human rights, with a focus on Deaf people who use sign language, and their friends and family. WFD works with the aim of solidarity and unity to make the world a better place.

WFD has consultative status in the United Nations (UN) system, including the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the International Labour Organization (ILO); and the World Health Organization (WHO). WFD also co-operates closely with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and has representatives on the Panel of Experts on the UN Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. WFD is a member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA).


At present, emphasis is placed on the following areas:

  • Improve the status of national sign languages
  • Better education for Deaf people
  • Improve access to information and services
  • Improve human rights for Deaf people in developing countries
  • Promote the establishment of Deaf organisations where none currently exist

The highest decision making body of WFD is the General Assembly (GA). Every Ordinary Member has the right to send up to two Deaf delegates to attend the GA, held every four years.

The GA is held in conjunction with the quadrennial World Congress of the WFD.


WFD has B-category status with the United Nations and is represented on the following groups:

  • Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • Regional Commissions
    • Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
    • Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)
    • Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
    • Economic Commission and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
    • Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
    • Panel of Experts on the UN Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for
  • Persons with Disabilities
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • International Labor Organization (ILO)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • World Bank
  • Council of Europe

WFD provides expert advice on Deaf issues in its relationship with other international organisations and professional groups.

The legal seat of WFD is in Helsinki, Finland.