Speech by the President, Mr. Geir Jensen, in Finland at the 2nd EDbU Conference

“At the opening ceremony for 2nd EDbU Conference, held in the Scandic Hotel Rosendahl, Tampere, Finland from the 7th to the 9th of June 2017, the WFDB President Mr. Geir Jensen from Norway was invited to hold a welcome/greeting speech on behalf of the WFDB.

In his speech the President talked among other issues about the common challenges and barriers persons with deafblindness are facing, regardless of where they might live. He followed up on this by presenting current projects the WFDB are working on, to map these barriers as a process to identify and present to civil society what will be needed on national, regional and global levels to ensure full inclusion, participation and enjoyment of human rights in society for persons with deafblindness. An insight crucial for achieving our aim to improve the quality of life for persons with deafblindness worldwide.

Below you can read to full speech held by the President, Mr. Geir Jensen, in Finland:”


Greetings from the WFDB, EdbU Conference, Wednesday June 7th 2017, Tampere, Finland.

Dear Chair, excellences, delegates, colleagues and friends.

It is an honour to be invited, and a privilege to stand here, before you, at this great venue in Tampere, Finland, to convey the greetings from the WFDB to you all, and to congratulate the host for planning and executing such an important event for all persons with deafblindness, in a scenic yet urban and friendly city of Tampere.

Over the next few days we will learn, gain insight, connect and develop ourselves not only as individuals but also as a unified group of persons with deafblindness and as representative organizations from a wide range of countries and cultures.

Our background is common; we have similar challenges and face the same barriers. However, the barriers we all face are resolved differently according to the available resources and support services where we live.

EU Legislation; Deafblind Identity; Communication as a right; By vs. for, who is the legitimate representative and voice of persons with deafblindness; Deafblind women, youth and equality are among the themes we will discuss. All of them are important for our future work.

For me as president of the WFDB, all the knowledge and impulses I will acquire here at this European Conference, will help me and the WFDB in our preparations for the next Helen Keller World Conference, in Benidorm, Spain, June 2018.

I regard this conference as an important stepping stone and tool for our work at the WFDB leading up to the HKWC 2018, as well as being important for the work of EDbU.
The WFDB is now running several important, and connected projects leading up to three essential outcomes: Strengthening presence and visibility; Strenghtening outreach and advocacy; and finally presenting a global report dedicated to identify and highlight the status of persons with deafblindness today: What have we achieved, where and how. And maybe more important: What are we lacking, both globally, regionally and nationally? All in the context of the promises given by the CRPD, the 2030Agenda and the Sustainable development Goals.

The report, to be presented at the HKWC 2018 and UN Conference of State Parties 2018, will specifically highlight what we, persons with deafblindness, will need and demand from the Civil Society, UN State Parties and other stakeholders for us to be included in the achievement of the SDGs and the basic human rights as these instruments promises.

It will show the world which barriers we face where ever we might live; whether it is in the Global South, Europe or anywhere we might find ourselves at any given time.

To conclude I trust and hope you are equally excited as I am, and wish you all a nice and informative stay here in Finland, and that I will see all of you again at the HKWC in Benidorm, Spain, next year.

Thank you!

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