Liisa Kauppinen (Finland)
Dr Kauppinen is truly an extraordinary woman, who served the World Federation of the Deaf for more than 30 years. Dr Kauppinen became the first female president of WFD in 1995, having previously served as its Vice-President (from 1983) and General Secretary (from 1987). She was Executive Director of the Finnish Association of the Deaf from 1976-1987 and from 1991-2006. She has worked actively with leaders of international organisations of persons with disabilities both as a member, and as Chair of the governing body of the International Disability Alliance. As WFD Emeritus President since 2003 and WFD Honorary President since 2011, she has been an inspiration to Deaf Communities internationally, an articulate and intelligent ‘voice’ on the need to explicitly uphold the human rights of deaf people at local, national, and international levels.
Dr Kauppinen was particularly effective in securing the inclusion of references to signed languages, Deaf Culture, Deaf Community and the identity of deaf people within the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). The focus of Dr Kauppinen’s human rights work, however, has not been exclusively on the rights of deaf people, but also on human rights for all. She has promoted both rights of women and women with disabilities through co-operation with other human rights activists, representatives of governments and international non-governmental organisations.
Dr Kauppinen’s passion for international work led to a number of development co-operation projects in areas such as organisational development, sign language documentation, sign language interpreting service and human rights training projects with Deaf Communities in Africa, Central Asia, South East Asia, the Balkans and North West Russia. Dr Kauppinen’s work with these projects resulted in the expansion of the number of member countries of the World Federation of the Deaf; an increase of 71 countries between 1983 – 2003. Deaf people in these areas now benefit from stronger deaf associations and services, increased recognition, and the ongoing support of WFD. Though she is now retired, she continues to involve herself in WFD work as a voluntary advisor at the WFD Secretariat in Helsinki, Finland, the country where she was born and raised.
Bill Moody (USA)
Bill Moody has been a professional sign language interpreter for over 50 years, practicing in the Deaf communities of Houston, Chicago, New York, and Paris. From 1977 to 1984 he interpreted in Paris for the International Visual Theatre, where he established the IVT program of sign language classes which has grown and is still operating, and also launched IVT publishing in 1983 with the first book on the history and grammar of LSF, which was followed by several volumes of LSF/French bilingual dictionaries under the direction of Michel Girod and the team of the Deaf teachers of LSF.
He retired three years ago from interpreting in the NYC Public Schools, but continues interpreting in ASL for the theater in New York, for conferences, and for museums. He interprets frequently in International Sign for WFD, WASLI, and various UN agencies. In 2015 he received the International Solidarity Merit Award (First Class) from the WFD for extraordinary dedication to the support of the international Deaf Community.