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  Deaf History, Europe

                    Work in Progress!

1946: Schweizerischer Gehöerlosenbund / Fedération Suisse des Sourds / Federazione Svizzera dei Sordi (SGB-FSS)  Swiss Federation of the Deaf

1946: Schweizerischer Gehöerlosenbund / Fedération Suisse des Sourds / Federazione Svizzera dei Sordi (SGB-FSS) Swiss Federation of the Deaf

The Swiss Association of the Deaf was founded in 1946 as a member of the Swiss Association for Aid to the Deaf. Here, hearing experts exclusively determine the fate of deaf and hearing impaired people.

This changed for the first time in 1969, when two deaf people were elected to the board of the Association for the Aid for the Deaf and Dumb: Felix Urech and Margrit Tanner. The stroke of liberation for the deaf from paternalism finally comes from America. The “Deaf Power” movement emerged there at the end of the 1970s and reached Switzerland in the 1980s. The spirit of optimism is shaped by the battle cry: "Deaf people can do everything except hear!"

During this time, the Swiss Association of the Deaf became politically more active: It implemented subtitling on Swiss television and set up the teletext service “Reading instead of hearing”. Deaf people in Switzerland are liberating sign language from its shadowy existence and setting up a sign commission.

At the same time, there is a loud demand for (spoken language accompanying) signs in lessons at schools for the deaf. The interpreting system is set up and in 1993 the Swiss Association of the Deaf called for social recognition of sign language in a petition. In 1997 Federal Councilor Ruth Dreifuss will approve this petition.

In 1987 the Swiss Association of the Deaf was regionalized, the German-speaking section SGB-DS and the French-speaking section FSS-RR were established.

In 1999 the “Deaf 2000” project in German-speaking Switzerland, which wanted to unite organizations for the hearing impaired, failed. The SGB-DS then leaves the Swiss Association for the Deaf and, together with the FSS-RR, founds an independent umbrella organization for self-help. A year later, the Ticino section FSS-RI was added. These three regional associations will be merged in 2006 to form the national umbrella organization of the Swiss Deaf Association SGB-FSS. The association structures will be reorganized in stages by 2015 and adapted to the national character.

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