A second home

Deaf associations quickly became hubs of social life for their members. Because most deaf children were born to hearing parents, the associations offered a place for sharing experiences. Often, the members did not have any other deaf people in their neighbourhood or workplace, so associations where the only places where they could communicate in sign language. They gave their members a sense of community. People could also meet former school friends and make new friends. Deaf associations were often called a second home for deaf people.

Right from the outset, the associations carried out diverse activities. The programme included meetings and a wide range of celebrations and functions where the members could enjoy themselves with friends. The associations also offered opportunities for gaining new skills and knowledge and engaging in other pastimes. There were theatre, woodwork, handicraft and chess clubs. The first athletics clubs were founded in the early 20th century, and they fostered a team spirit and promoted well-being. Many of the associations had a summer house where the members could spend their summer holidays.

Educational goals were important to the associations, which arranged regular lectures by lecturers such as employees of the Finnish Association for the Deaf and travelling ministers for the deaf. These lectures were often livened up with magic lantern images and reading was promoted through circulating library boxes. The associations served as channels of informal information, including news on important events and the latest gossip.