WFD abstracts

Tomato Lichy’s two WFD abstracts.    Comments are activated on this page.    This is work in progress – please do not share with other organisations.

WFD proposal 1:
Who really gains financially from deaf campaigning and activism? Towards Deaf Economic Empowerment!

The question of furthering deaf empowerment has been widely debated, for example, through Dr Paddy Ladd’s innovative Deafhood and colonialism theory, and Dr Steve Emery’s work on Group Rights for deaf people.

However these perspectives have not fully addressed the issue of economic empowerment for deaf people. My presentation will explore this issue of deaf economic empowerment, giving special attention to deaf-advocated models and concepts of human rights.

I will draw on my work as a deaf activist, with over a decade of experience in a variety of campaigns. I have co-organised successful campaigns around cochlear implant deaths, sign language deprivation, saving deaf schools, and stopping laws that promoted eugenic genetic discrimination against deaf people. I co-wrote the draft for the Communication Support (Deafness) Bill that was voted on in the UK Houses of Parliament in 2013. I worked as Community Campaigns Officer for the British Deaf Association, and now I run DeafLondon, a lobbying and campaigning organisation for London.

In my presentation, I will examine the flow of deaf-targeted financial capital towards deaf people and the deaf sector (access to services, interpreting provision, deaf education, audiology and social services, etc.) and demonstrate that little of it reaches deaf people, or is under deaf control.

I will analyse deaf activist and governmental campaign statements on deaf issues to reveal how both deaf and hearing people have internalised this economic hegemony while declaring what they may believe to be radical statements and campaign aims for deaf liberation.

I will discuss the weakness of the linguistic model, the social model, and the human rights model (including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), and compare them against the reality of who controls the money spent on deaf people.

I will demonstrate how deaf people are deprived of economic power and control over the purchasing and regulation of deaf services, and are forced into accepting substandard services that fail to recognise the diversity of deaf cultural needs.

I argue that the WFD must create a model of deaf economic liberation, where deaf budgets are controlled by deaf people, and financial decisions on deaf issues are taken by deaf people at a personal, regional, and national level.

In conclusion, this presentation, by closely examining the neglected area of deaf economics, will shine new light on the overlooked fiscal and economic component of Deafhood and give deaf campaigners, activists, and hearing allies another tool towards deaf liberation.

WFD Proposal 2
Lessons learned from two successful campaigns for Deaf Legislation and against Eugenic / Genetic Discriminatory Legislation

Around the world, deaf people have campaigned for legislation on Deaf / Human Rights and also sought to influence legislation on genetic issues where it impacts deaf people. In the 21st century, for a variety of reasons, many national deaf associations have become weaker and less able to effectively lead their national deaf communities in these campaigns.

This presentation will give a personal insider view, and lessons learned, of two successful deaf campaigns that took place outside national deaf associations. I was one of the principal activists in both campaigns and I was deeply involved with their organization and strategic direction.

The first campaign successfully amended UK government-supported genetic legislation (The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008) to remove clauses directly discriminating against deaf genes. It was covered in media across the world, hugely raising awareness that deaf and disabled people did not see themselves as inferior people, and influenced subsequent discussion and legislation on deaf genetic issues across the world.

The second campaign, in 2013, built on lessons learned from the first campaign and mobilised, through social media, over 11,000 deaf people to influence a national Parliament into proposing primary legislation focused on supporting deaf issues (The Communication Support (Deafness) Bill 2013).   It brought together a diverse variety of deaf people, both signers and oral users, and created a new model for directly linking deaf grassroots with their elected parliamentary representatives, bypassing standard hierarchical models and established national d/Deaf associations.

Specifically, I will present a personal narrative of both campaigns, in order to show their organisation and the various tactics used. I will discuss the success and failures of the tactics we tried, and juxtapose them against naïve campaign tactics that became counterproductive.

In conclusion, this presentation, by closely examining two successful deaf-led campaigns that took place outside national deaf organisations, will shine new light on the urgent issue of how to support grassroots deaf communities in becoming more proactive, more closely connected to national congress / parliament, and how to use deaf diversity to achieve political goals.

Tomato Lichy’s Bio

I have worked as a deaf activist for over a decade. I have co-organised successful campaigns around cochlear implant deaths, sign language deprivation, saving deaf schools, and stopping laws that promoted eugenic genetic discrimination against deaf people. I co-wrote the draft for the Communication Support (Deafness) Bill that was voted on in the UK Houses of Parliament in 2013. I worked as Community Campaigns Officer for the British Deaf Association, and now I run DeafLondon, a lobbying and campaigning organisation for London.

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