Operations become more diverse

Operations expand and become more diverse

For a long time, the operations of the Finnish Association for the Deaf remained unchanged, mainly because of insufficient funding. For quite some time, for example, the association’s secretary was its only employee. In addition, legislation was discriminatory and sign language was not appreciated. This made it impossible for deaf people to achieve an equal standing in society.

In the late 1950s, the organisation’s finances improved, and its operations began to expand, thanks to the support from the state and Finland’s Slot Machine Association. It could now support regional associations and promote sign language. In addition, the associations gradually attracted younger members who began to campaign to improve the situation of deaf people. The organisation was reformed and committees run by volunteers were set up. Prominent activists of the era included Jaakko Väisälä, Runo Savisaari, Emil Mattila, Ragnar Östman and Aura Ahlbäck. Important matters that were discussed at the time included improving the status of sign language, advisor and interpreter issues and youth activities. Full-time employees were hired for advocacy work in the 1970s, and the Deafness Awareness movement that became active in the 1980s changed the way deaf people viewed themselves and their language.

Gradually more efficient fundraising and increased state support enabled the organisation to operate more effectively. The organisation developed its activities and communications, a social adviser network was set up and a sign language secretary was hired. New influential leaders also began their work in the organisation at the time. They included Jarmo Narmala, Esko Sänkiniemi and Liisa Kauppinen.

By the 1980s, the association had grown to a size where its organisation needed restructuring, which gave rise to different departments and units. The operations moved to the next level when the assosiation moved to Valkea Talo (Light House), a multipurpose facility for hearing organisations, in the late 1980s. The building also housed a cultural centre, Folk High School for the Deaf and a video production centre.