The World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) held its 2nd technical SHAPES workshop in person in Geneva on 11-13 July 2022, to gather feedback and the perspective of persons with deafblindness. Find the concept note at the link included at the end of this post.


WFDB’s role in SHAPES is to bring the perspective of the deafblind community and facilitate the participation of older persons with deafblindness across Europe into the project. More information on WFDB’s role in the project can be found here!


The 2nd Technical Workshop included the participation of members of WFDB and the European Deafblind Union . One of the aims of this workshop was to strengthen ties within the deafblind community and SHAPES partners, as well as international stakeholders, such as the International Disability Alliance (IDA) the World Health Organisation  and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 


The representatives with deafblindness, had the opportunity to provide their perspective on the following topics:

– The current situation, challenges and barriers faced by older persons with deafblindness

– Good practices and recommendations

– Physical accessibility of public areas and services

– Digital accessibility and the use of technology to improve quality of life.


The importance of making technological devices accessible and affordable to persons with deafblindness was particularly raised. It was highlighted that many potentially useful technological solutions are targeted at persons who are blind or deaf, but not persons with deafblindness. Another point discussed regarding technology was the price, lack of adjustments, maintenance, and training in the use of assistive devices.


A key remark was the importance of raising awareness of the diversity within the deafblind community, and the variety of needs. For example, some can use glasses or hearing loops, communicate in sign language while others can read braille, or use a screen reader software.


Moreover, participants reported a lack of disaggregated data and statistics on older persons with deafblindness.


Testing of digital solutions


Two SHAPES technical partners SciFY and Access Earth had the chance to present their digital solutions. Participants and interpreter-guides who owned compatible personal devices were able to download these apps and provide information on its usefulness, accessibility, usability, etc.


Participants encourage all stakeholders to involve and consult different persons in the deafblind community and their representative organisations on developments and improvements related to technology, assistive device and artificial intelligence, in line with the motto “nothing about us without us”.


The feedback collected throughout the workshop will feed into WFDB’s final project report to be published in 2023, which will focus solely on the situation of older persons with deafblindness.


Moreover, discussions were held on the topic of the  2nd Global Report on the situation of persons with deafblindness  currently being produced by WFDB, to be published at the end of 2022, in which the SHAPES project will be included as an example of a good practice on how to mainstream disability and deafblindness in a broader context.


The full article on WFBD’s website, access to the concept note and full workshop report can be found by clicking here!