The 24th World Federation of the Deaf Regional Secretariat Asia Pacific (WFD-RSAP) meeting ended on November 30, 2012. Fourteen WFD Ordinary Member Countries from Asia and the Pacific regions came to Hong Kong to report the situation of their organization and Deaf Community in their country. A total of 119 participants including WFD board members, delegates and a number of observers joined the event. The Hong Kong Association for the Deaf was host of the meeting. The event took place at the Youth Square in Wan Chai, far east of Hong Kong Island. The meeting and dialogues were conducted in International Sign Language and English. Though during social mingle participants used Hong Kong Sign language, Japanese Sign Language or American Sign Language. Other sign languages were also seen used among members of representing countries.
WFD-president, Colin Allen also present at the meeting. He presented WFD’s vision and objectives. Also at the meeting were dignitaries from Hong Kong government sectors. They welcomed participants and presented a short speech about Hong Kong’s collaboration with the Hong Kong Deaf Community.
The WFD-RSAP meeting coincided with the WFD-Asian Pacific Youth Section (WFD-APYS) 4th meeting and the Asian World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) 5th Asia Pacific meeting. There was also a special meeting session held for Deaf Women of Asia Pacific Region for the first time. Of the four different sections, 11 countries sent delegates to the RSAP meeting, 9 sent their young adults to the APYS and 10 countries sent interpreter representatives to the WASLI meeting. Eight women from the following countries; Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal and one outsider from America joined in the meeting for women.
For two days, starting from November 27th, representatives and delegates held plenary meetings with their respective groups. On the first day most groups reported new changes and issues happening within their country. Then on the second day each group discussed resolutions and opened the floor for new developments or projections. The WFD-APYS were especially busy with election of new officers and preparing for the WFD-Youth Section Board meeting that was planned for the weekend after the RSAP meeting.
The WFD-RSAP focused on the motion to separate the Oceania countries from the Asian countries. The motion to separate the pacific countries from Asia was bought to the floor by an American expat, Kyle Miers, who now lives and works in Melbourne Australia. Kyle described that Deaf Community members in the Oceania region, particularly the island states, have felt that culture and some issues shared among countries in the Oceania region were different from culture, practices and issues as shared among Asian countries and that often resolutions for issues were sort of conflicting because of culture differences. Ichiro Miyamoto, director of the WFD-RSAP opened the floor to representatives for discussion. There was little discussion and most RSAP representative members voted in support to the separation. Changes will be official next year during the 2nd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf in Sydney, Australia from October 16 ~ 18, 2013 says Miyamoto, the director of the WFD-RSAP. The word “Pacific” will be removed from Regional Secretariat Asia Pacific. We will see a new title for the Asia region as WFD-Regional Secretariat Asia. Also those Pacific-Oceania countries removed from Secretariat will propose to WFD to form a new Regional Secretariat for the Oceania countries. The WFD ordinary members will call a regional meeting with other members of the Oceania region to develop a proposal to establish the new WFD-Regional Secretariat Oceania. The Oceania region will include Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands. Though, as Kyle explained, there were some interesting questions in regards to the fact that some South Pacific Islands were territories of the United States of America. One island state in the Oceania includes Hawaii.
While representatives of RSAP had their meeting, the WASLI representatives met in another room. Most participants were interpreters and hearing. The meeting was most often conducted in English. ASL interpretation was available when a Deaf RSAP representative or observer entered the room. Emiko Ichikawa, the Asian WASLI leader representative from Japan, opened the meeting with regional reports. Each participating interpreter representative discussed the situation of interpreting in their country, the establishment of their interpreting organizations, and their interpreter network. A PowerPoint with an outline of the meeting and some questions were included. Also discussed during the meeting was the role of Deaf Interpreters and health issues concerning sign language interpreters. The group has decided the next 6th WASLI Asian representative meeting will take place in Macau in 2014.
The meeting closed with a dinner event at a Cantonese restaurant. Dinner included a full 12 course dinner, participants adding their signatures to a huge banner, two short performances by Hong Kong Deaf actors, a dance performance by Wild Forest, a Deaf Hong Kong hip hop dance group, speeches by leader representatives, and group photo sessions. There was one photo session that included the Gallaudet University Alumni Association members. Other Representatives, as well as artists and business people who had booths, were introduced. Announcements were also exchanged among participants.
The next morning during wrap up, Miyamoto announced that the WFD-Regional Secretariat Asia (WFD-RSA) meeting is expected to be held next year. However, the site of meeting hasn’t been confirmed. Three countries have been nominated: Australia, Macau and Japan. First choice among many representatives is Australia. WFD-RSA Director, Miyamoto, will inquire former Australian RSAP leaders about hosting the next Asia meeting in Australia during the 2nd International WFD meeting that will be held in Australia from October 16 ~ 18, 2013. Members of the Asian Regional Secretariat felt that there should be a ceremony for the separation of Oceania countries from the Asian region.