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Manifesto of the EDbU on the Celebration of the European Day of Deafblind People 2023

Empowering the Vibrant Voice of the European Deafblind Community

The European Deafblind Union (EDbU), established in 2003 as a non-governmental, non-profit organization, commemorates its 20th anniversary as a European entity uniting national organizations of Deafblind people.

As the authentic voice of Deafblind individuals in Europe, EDbU’s primary objective is to work toward the equality and social inclusion of Deafblind individuals across all European countries.

EDbU celebrates October 22 as the European Day of Deafblind People in recognition of its foundation as the sole European organization representing the genuine identity and idiosyncrasy of the Deafblind community.

For the reasons stated above, we, Deafblind individuals, demand the following:

-Insisting on visibility or Resolute visibility growth: We insist on the recognition of Deafblindness as a unique disability resulting from the combination of two sensory impairments, auditory and visual, which lead to profound issues in global perception, communication, access to education and information, severe mobility challenges, and normalized participation in the environment, as was declared in Written Declaration 1/2004 on the needs of Deafblind people, approved by the European Parliament, calling for the recognition of Deafblindness in Europe.

-EP Emergency Resolution on Professional Deafblind interpreters/ Intervenors and Equal Access to Communication and Information for Persons with Deafblindness in Europe: We call on the relevant European bodies to determine the Emergency Resolution on Interpreters for Deafblind Individuals, established at the conference “Alone We Can Do So Little, Together We Can Do So Much,” held at the European Parliament in Brussels on June 5, 2018. We insist on its approval and adoption by the European Parliament as soon as possible.

-Recognition of Sign Languages: We demand the recognition of sign languages across Europe as national languages and acknowledgment Deafblind individuals as users of these languages. Independent Living: We seek the need for Deafblind assistants for daily activities, leisure moments, travel, and mobility. We assert the right to access media through appropriate technologies and support services to ensure universal accessibility on equal terms with others.

-Equal Voting Rights: Recognizing the fundamental importance of civic participation and the right to vote as cornerstones of democracy, we advocate for ensuring that individuals who are deafblind exercise their voting rights on equal terms, as previously endorsed in Written Declaration 1/2004 on the needs of deafblind people, approved by the European Parliament. To achieve this, we demand the availability of a qualified support professional to accompany deafblind individuals during the electoral process, providing assistance to ensure an informed and autonomous vote, and the possibility for a deafblind individual to be a part of the electoral committee. Furthermore, we urge politicians and institutions to provide accessible and comprehensible electoral information, thereby promoting full and equitable participation of deafblind individuals in the democratic process.

-Right to Decision-Making: We want to exercise the right to make decisions freely on equal terms with the rest of the population. To achieve this, public authorities should provide the measures that enable access to a stable and qualified interpreting service for Deafblind individuals, facilitating social inclusion and effective participation in all aspects of life.

-Promotion of Communication Systems: We advocate for the study and implementation of different and specific communication systems used by Deafblind individuals, ensuring their dissemination and use within the community. Access to individualized: We demand the necessary human resources, including professional Deafblind interpreters, communication mediators, and access to technologies. We encourage the use and research of new technologies that revolutionize access to information and immediate communication for Deafblind people.

-Visibility of the Red-White Cane: We call for the recognition and promotion of the red-white cane as one of the identity symbols of the Deafblind community by public organizations to raise social visibility.

-Support for Deafblind Associations: We seek support for Deafblind associations in each European country, led by Deafblind individuals and established with the goal of achieving equal opportunities and treatment, as well as the effective exercise of the rights of Deafblind individuals on an equal basis with the rest of the population, as established in the United Nations’ International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

-Rights of Deafblind Women and Girls: Deafblind women and girls face multiple forms of discrimination and risks of violence due to the specificity of Deafblindness across all aspects of life. We must be included in the design of specific policies that guarantee our fundamental rights on equal terms with other women and girls, with or without disabilities.

-Youth Empowerment: Deafblind youth aim to live life to the fullest, enjoying the same opportunities in all aspects of our lives as other European youth.

-Dignified Aging for Deafblind Seniors: It is essential for all Deafblind seniors to age with dignity. We demand the respect of their rights, ensuring that aging does not mean losing their identity or being excluded. We call for an inclusive society that provides support, communication, and services to ensure a happy old age for Deafblind individuals.

On this European Day of Deafblind People, our focus is on our shared journey. Together, we will build a world where Deafblind individuals can thrive, where our stories are cherished, and where our voices resonate with hope and determination.