It was such a bittersweet feeling for me to visit the Deaf club in Amsterdam once again. The last time I came here was last November with co-owner John Hathaway II during a social event of theirs. Although there weren’t many Deaf Dutch locals at the event, but we surely had a blast meeting and playing a cards game with them. There were a couple of visitors from other European countries as well.
However, we came to the Deaf club during its social event on a Friday night, so the volunteer staff there didn’t really have much time to show me around the club that much as they were busy socializing and getting to know John and me. Not only that, John and I were too busy being fascinated by the people there and meeting them.
Now, it’s my second time here and I’m actually here during the day instead of a night event.
This time, one of the Deaf locals gave me a tour through the building. I actually learned few new things during this tour and let me share you what I learned.
The Deaf club is known as Stichting Welzijn Doven Amsterdam (SWDA), but it is also known as the “Welfare Foundation for the Deaf in and around Amsterdam” in English.
The foundation was established in 1976 as an umbrella organization for the various associations for the Deaf who wanted to show one face to the city of Amsterdam. The purpose of the foundation is to promote the material and spiritual welfare of the Deaf’s Organizations and by and for the Deaf in Amsterdam and surroundings, while also encouraging the Deaf culture.
This foundation is overlooked by a board of directors that consists a President, Treasurer, and three members. The current coordinator of the organization is Alexander Bosman.
The building where the SWDA is located has bar, theater and office space. Plus, the SWDA houses few programs such as:
- Gestures Course
- Deafblind in Motion
- Amsterdam Deaf History
- DOC / DOCA
The foundation also offers a program named Stichting Huisvesting Dove Jongeren (SHDJ). The program houses Deaf people who are in school with low rent. The Deaf Youth in Amsterdam calls it DOPA and that stands for ‘doofjespand’, which also means ‘Deaf Venue” to them. – Yes, that’s correct, they do have shared rooms and single apartments.
To get to that part of the building of the foundation, you would have to go through the Gert-Jan de Kleer hallway. The hallway was designed to honor Gert-Jan de Kleer because he painted a tram into themed sign language about Amsterdam back in the 90’s to raise awareness about the Deaf community in Amsterdam. It was known as the Sign-Tram, but it went out of order when it was in the 2000’s. Gert-Jan de Kleer, who himself was Deaf, passed away at early age due to cancer, so the SWDA decided to honor him with the hallway replica of the sign-tram. It was designed by Timothy de Graaf.
Besides the housing and the hallway, you will also find a room with a big space in the back of the front lobby. It’s technically a multipurpose room to them as they use the room for workshops, lectures, meetings, assemblies, social events, movie nights, dining, and many more. This room is called “Stadhouderszaal” and it is actually named after the street they are located at. Cool, isn’t it?
If you consider reading this article as your tour to the Deaf club, you’re done with the tour. =P
Are you planning to come to Amsterdam soon? Want to meet some cool Deaf Dutch people in Amsterdam? If you answered yes to both questions, then you better check out the Deaf club and you won’t regret it!
Stichting Welzijn Doven Amsterdam (SWDA)
- Address: Deaf Ontmoetingscentrum, Stadhouderskade 89, 1073 AV Amsterdam
- Operating Hours:
- Monday: by appointment
- Tuesday: 10am – 10pm
- Wednesday: 10am – 10pm
- Thursday: by appointment
- Friday: 7pm – 12am
- Weekends: by appointment (typically for special events)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.doofamsterdam.nl/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/swdamsterdam