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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Istanbul, Turkey, 28 July 2015 - Secretary-General's message to the XVII World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, 28 July - 1 August

I am pleased to convey my greetings to all those gathered for the XVII World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf as you come together around the theme of “Strengthening Human Diversity”. 

More than 1 billion people around the world live with some form of disability. 
Many of them are deaf or hard of hearing.

Even though disability is a part of the human condition, persons with disabilities continue to face physical obstacles as well as barriers in attitudes that fuel stigma and discrimination.  Around the world, persons with disabilities suffer from exclusion, live in poverty and are denied access to education, employment, and social and legal support. 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities promotes respect for difference and acceptance of disabilities as part of human diversity.

The Convention sees these diversities as assets that enrich our common humanity.  Each and every person -- whether he or she communicates in spoken or sign languages or via other means -- is a unique individual, with capabilities that benefit our communities and our world.

Recognizing disability as a part of human diversity is essential for appreciating the abilities of people with disabilities.  This is also fundamental to the new sustainable development agenda to be adopted by the international community at the United Nations
in September.

Once again, thank you for strengthening our shared values and advancing our common goals.  Your work during this Congress will help us build a better world where everyone has the chance to live their dreams and make the most of their tremendous potential.

I wish you a productive and successful World Congress.

Statements on 28 July 2015