A historic Written Declaration on the rights of deafblind people was formally adopted by the European Parliament on 1 st April, 2004. This was the culmination of a long campaign by deafblind people, families and professionals in Europe. The Written Declaration is a 200 word statement about the fact that deafblindness is a distinct disability. It lists the rights to which deafblind people should be entitled.
EDbN was originally set up to access funding from Europe for deafblindness projects. One of its principles was to involve a parent or family representative, deafblind person and professional from each country.
This strong wish for continuing EDbN was strongly expressed again at the family conference last October in Puglia, Italy, where many families came together and explained their need for a platform.
A personal experience: Letter of Arleta Kubicka of Poland. On 20-27 of October 2002, I participated in the Family Event "Listen to me" held in Bisceglie, Italy. It was a great honour to be chosen as a representative by the Association for the Welfare of the Deaf-blind People. It was the first international event I took part in. I was accompanied by the blind interpreter, Anna Rozborska. I was going there with a tremendous potential of energy. I wanted to learn, see and hear as much as possible In order to be able to share that with other parents from the Section of Parents of Deafblind Children at the Association.
There are at least 150,000 deafblind citizens livings in the European Union. The personal testimony which forms the basis of this report, reveals a group of people who count as amongst the most socially excluded citizens in Europe. They face unique disadvantages in a world that is organised for the hearing and sighted.
20th – 27th October 2002 Ruvo di Puglia (BA, Italy)
2001 May. VIENNA (AUSTRIA) seminar, Deafblind people, family members and professionals working together
Austria is a country with a special geography. The country is divided in several regions. Each region has its own laws and structure. That is the reason why awareness raising and initiatives involving deafblind children and adults are done on a regional or local level. This EDbN conference in Vienna on the 19th and 20th of May this year was a good opportunity for the different local projects to get to know each other and share experiences with each other and with all the other participants from allover Europe.
Our EDbN seminar on the 20th of May 2000 in Ancona, Italy was on all aspects of equal opportunity for deafblind people. We have started a new area, where policy starts from the point of view of deafblind people themselves. There is the anti discrimination clause in article 13 in the Amsterdam Treaty and in different countries new laws are being prepared to seek equal opportunities for disabled people. Disability is not only a social issue, it became a human rights issue towards full citizenship.
The Third European Family Conference was held in Slovakia one sunny weekend in September 1999 in the beautiful city of Kosice. There were over fifty people from sixteen European countries, mainly parents and other family members and a few professionals, with a large group from Central and Eastern Europe. We came from a wide variety of personal backgrounds and experiences, but these differences are irrelevant.
1997 November. DUBLIN Seminar, Report back from the groups discussions: Deafblind people, professionals and parents.
Report back from the groups discussions:
1. The Deafblind group
There were approximately 80 persons from all over Europe. Also from Africa and Canada. The programme was quite full. We had lectures about the big variety of deafblindness. Video films were shown. There was a programme for deafblind youngsters about how to find a job.