We are an organisation of disabled and non-disabled people for disabled people. Meaning that the majority of our members is disabled and disabled persons also have the majority in the board.
The basis of all our goals and activities is the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) which entered into force in May 2008. The UN CRPD is a human rights convention of the United Nations and was made by disabled persons themselves. Most countries have already ratified it, so did Germany. Ratification means that the parliament has approved it and it is now a valid law. Our German-Korean cooperative development of the Deaf and Blind has significantly contributed to the UN CRPD ratification by North Korea. Other countries have taken only the first step and signed the CRPD. This means that they acknowledge it as the measure for their disability work, but it has not yet become a valid law in their own country.
The basic approach of the UN CRPD is the active participation of the disabled right from the beginning in all their disability affairs including decision making. This means that decisions about us shall not be made detached from us any more, as a decision making process "over our heads". We have the right to decide ourselves and to participate in decision making. The disability movement has a slogan that expresses this idea very clearly:
"Nothing About Us Without Us!"
We have taken the five initial letters of this English sentence and made a new word of it: NAUWU. We like this nice new word, it is easy to pronounce and expresses exactly what we want.
The NAUWU-Principle is the basis of all our work: We do everything together with the Deaf and Blind. We have support from non-disabled people, this is necessary and okay. But it is us, the disabled, who stand in the first row. This is the way we work in our organisation and we demand this style of work also from all our partners.
Sometimes this is not easy, and this does not only hold for North Korea. There is a lot of work waiting to be done also here in Germany, in Europe, and worldwide in order to put the UN CRDP into practice, to make it reality. All people involved must learn, including us, the disabled themselves, since over too many years our lives were different: others made decisions on our behalf. We are used to this and we accept many things that "have always been done like this". Often we do not even ask ourselves where there is another way of doing things.
With the UN CRPD things have changed: the UN CRPD is this other way. It is a wonderful tool, making our rights official. It enables us to officially demand our rights to be applied. This is great! But the best tool is useless if one does not know how to use it.
In our work, we want to always use this tool and learn to handle it ever better. We want to encourage other disabled people to do the same – where and in whichever context one is engaging.
© 2021 TOGETHER – Educational Centre for Deaf, Blind and Nondisabled Children Hamhung e.V.