Deaf Union of Serbia

The first association of the deaf in Serbia was founded on 7 February 1926 under the name “Association of the Deaf (deaf-mute) of Belgrade and Surrounding Districts”, with its headquarters in Belgrade. The association operated only until 1928, when it was terminated, and in 1935, a new association was founded in Belgrade under the name “Association of the Deaf (deaf-mute) of the Yugoslav homeland,” with the task to unify all other associations from the territory of ​​Yugoslavia into an organization, which was not met in lack of agreement with the associations based in Ljubljana, Zagreb and Skopje.

Consequently, at its general meeting in 1938 the Association adopted organizational changes, and the old name was replaced by a new one, “Association of the Educated Deaf and Their Friends”, which could be joined by any deaf person, regardless of where they are from.

As one of the oldest organizations, the Union takes comprehensive care of the deaf and hard of hearing through local organizations within its system. Headed by Anela Durakovic as its president, the Union presently gathers 45 local associations, including the Deaf Union of Vojvodina and its members

The Union represents deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, striving to achieve common goals and interests by working on early detection of newly born deaf individuals and their early rehabilitation, taking care of the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing children, their professional orientation and rehabilitation and employment.

Deaf organizations very quickly established cooperation with schools for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Serbia, and one of their most important tasks was providing training to deaf students and underqualified deaf workers, as well as employment to the deaf unable to find a job, due to various reasons.

Accordingly, back in 1948, a decision was made to start establishing independent enterprises that comprise various workshops. The foundations, and concurrently early beginnings of operation of such enterprises were laid in Novi Sad in 1948, with the establishment of the first photographer’s shop, and in 1949, the Enterprise for Employment, Vocational and Occupational Training of Deaf Persons “DES” was established in Belgrade. The Union was establishing enterprises of this type and expanding their network across Serbia, and later they became enterprises for professional rehabilitation and employment of all persons with disabilities.

As the Deaf Union’s organizational network expanded and basic organizations in larger centres strengthened, the need has arisen to conduct cultural and educational activities in an organized manner within the deaf cultural-artistic and educational societies, and in their absence, within such sections of the Deaf Union’s city committees. In this regard, the greatest successes were achieved in folklore, drama and pantomime, while the results in rhythmic dance and ballet were somewhat weaker, as their courses were introduced in the deaf community only later. This was followed by the establishment of deaf cultural and artistic societies (KUD), comprising folklore, drama, art, recitation and other sections, which have been carrying out cultural and artistic activities incessantly. In November 2022, in Novi Sad, the Deaf Union of Serbia organized the 45th Festival of the deaf and hard-of-hearing cultural and artistic societies.

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