Today, February 2nd 2020, Sense International Romania celebrates 20 years of activity. We are proud that in these twenty years, the name of the Foundation Sense International Romania became, in our country, synonym with deafblindness.
For all those who wish to share their thoughts with us on this special day, we created a place where messages can be shared:
Looking back, we warmly think about the children with deafblindness, their families, the young people with deafblindness whom we have met, their teachers, the very special people that were by our side, the beautiful moments, the successes, but also the more difficult times we had to overcome.
It is truly a challenge to summarise two decades in only a few paragraphs. If we were to choose the key moments of our existence, one of them would be the moment when deafblindness was recognised as a distinct disability in the legislation.
Then, metaphorically traveling from the beginning to now – everything we have achieved for the education of children with deafblindness, from developing a curriculum for their education to equipping schools with specialised equipment, from training teachers in the field to developing digital solutions adapted to children with deafblindness. Then, another project close to our heart: everything that meant and still means the early intervention for babies born with sensory impairments, from developing and equipping early intervention support centres to training specialists in the field.
Our work alongside young people who were born with or acquired deafblindness started with the establishment of vocational centres where they learn a trade. We continued with activities aiming at developing their independent living skills, through orientation and mobility courses, leadership and advocacy, to demonstrate that they too have a voice and we, adults and specialists from decision making authorities, we must listen to their voice.
These were intense and fruitful 20 years, where we created and collected a wealth of specialised resources in the field, we offered teachers the opportunity to learn from each other through countless meetings, workshops and conferences, we created and maintained connection for the sake of those who need the support the most, children and young people with deafblindness and multisensory impairments.
One of the most touching times, full of hope, energy and enthusiasm, were the times when we had professor Vasile Adamescu with us. He was a true mentor, a guide who took us by the hands and guided us towards really understanding what it means to be without sight and hearing, a true, patient and calm friend, an accomplished promoter of the rights of people with deafblindness in Romania.
From the twenty years ahead of us, we wish to fully attain our vision, a world where all children and adults with deafblindness can become active and equal members of the society, a society that is inclusive and aware of the fact that we are all equal and have the same rights.
In 2018, we celebrated for the first time December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, through activities designed to highlight the qualities and resources that students with deafblindness and multisensory impairmens have. In 2019, we decided that this day would be celebrated in memory of VASILE ADAMESCU, a person with deafblindness, a member of the Board of Directors of Sense International Romania, a Promoter, in the true sense of the word, of this very special disability.
This year, 2020, is one that challenged us to deal with the pandemic caused by the SARS-COV2 virus. This context has put us in a position to identify new opportunities to be in contact with people with deafblindness, with our partners who have been with us for years.
We do this in a different way, which involves using digital technology in such a way as to make us friends, an easy tool for communication, connection and openness to access resources, opportunities and, above all, to be connected with others beyond all the impediments related to maintaining the physical distance and the other measures related to the personal safety of each one, but also of the loved ones in our community.
The campaign will start from 3 December 2020, the International Day of People with Disabilities, and will run until 31 March 2021. This campaign will raise awareness of some of the rights of people with disabilities, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, presented in a way that is accessible to children and young people:
For a better understanding of these concepts, we have created the material "I too have a voice - the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities", which can be downloaded below in graphic and text format:
Today, December 3rd, is the International Day of People with Disabilities. Words like DIGNITY, EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES, INCLUSION, ACCESSIBILITY, RESPECT or NON-DISCRIMINATION must turn into deeds!
Today, more than ever, we remember professor Vasile Adamescu, who said: ”I hope that through my example, I can help people in difficult situation, inspire people with disabilities and convince the society that we too can be useful.”
Today is the day when, more than ever, the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities must prime:
Only together can we do this! All the best wishes to all people with different abilities, to their families and dear ones!
Sense International Romania launches the campaign I TOO HAVE A VOICE! Children ad young people with deafblindeness from partner schools will prove they have a voice, making videos about one or more of the rights of people with disabilities as they are described in the UNCRPD.
This campaign is part of the project called Education with Sense International, funded by Nelumbo Foundation. Implemented in 2020-2023, the project aims to organise activities with children and young people with deafblindness from Romania, promoting their own rights themselves, as well as to develop an online course in the field of deafblindness.
The campaign regulations will be available soon and sent by email to all Sense International Romania partner schools.
Bucharest. November 24th. The Foundation Sense International Romania, Code for Romania and Orange Foundation are launching the platform www.esense.ro during the International Conference “Deafblindness during the Pandemic”, organised online.
The platform is founded on the professional expertise of the specialists in the field of deafblindness from the Sense International Romania and partner schools: School Centre for Inclusive Education Cristal Oradea, School Centre for Inclusive Education Constantin Pufan Timisoara and Special Technological Highschool Vasile Pavelcu Iași, combined with the expertise of professional and enthusiastic community of young people from Code for Romania, who develop IT solutions to respond to various issues related to people and society.
The project e-Sense is funded by Orange Foundation with the amount of 414 804 lei, through the programme “The World through Colour and Sound”, the largest fund dedicated to people with hearing / visual impairments in Romania.
“This project appeared as a response to the concrete needs of children with deafblindness. The work with the child in this context, the games created through these digital instruments, are benefit when educating special children, ensuring a high level of communication, socialisation, cognitive and psychological development, a support for the parents and/or the teacher”. Loredana Prisecaru, Special Technological Highschool Vasile Pavelcu Iași
“We are a handful of people trying to do all that we can to change the life of others for the better. At the same time, the feeling of being a part of this change, transforms us too into better people.” Eva Oprea, School Centre for Inclusive Education Cristal Oradea
Digital technology is increasingly prevalent in the education system and everyday life, but not for children with deafblindness. In order for them to have access to quality education and not to "fall behind", software is needed to adapt to their specific needs given by the combination of visual and hearing impairments.
In the absence of vision and/or hearing, access to knowledge is more limited, which is why specific sensory stimulation activities are necessary, supporting the child to be in contact with the world. The main aim of e-Sense is to transpose into the digital technology realm exercises that lead to the development of perceptive skills to detects sensory stimuli and to become aware of their presence, the development of attention to sensory stimuli, to localise them. Explore and manipulate, recognise and discriminate.
“e-Sense is the solution that schools had needed for a very long time. A customisable solution that allows teachers to utilise, in an adapted manner, the specific situation of each child, because each child has very specific requirements. We succeeded to build a system that will support teachers in early intervention and not only, with flexible exercises and games that follow the curriculum in force and that is open to everyone, it is open-source, replicable and reusable all around the world.” Olivia Vereha, Chief Operations Officer and co-founder Code for Romania
After registering an account on the platform www.esense.ro, the specialist will have access to a series of exercises that can be made together with the child. The specialist will have an increased level of control upon the exercises features such as shapes, colours, contrast, size, objects direction of movement – all in order to personalise the exercises depending on the child’s development level. The specialist will be able to record, monitor and assess the child’s progress, and therefore having a better initial and on-going assessment process.
The exercises are created in accordance with the National Curriculum for the Education of Children with Deafblindness/Multisensory Impairments (Ministry of Education, Research and Innovation Order no. 5243/01.09.2008) and the Educational Content for Ante-pre-school Early Intervention for with Deafblindness/Multisensory Impairments (Ministry of Education Order no. 3071/18.01.2013).
About Sense International Romania
Sense International Romania is a Romanian organisation established in 2001 with the aim to improve the life of people with deafblindness and multisensory impairments in our country. SIR is the only organisation in Romania actively fighting for the rights of people with deafblindness. Through national level programmes that promote the early intervention foe babies born with sensory impairments, the education of children with deafblindness/MSI and the provision of vocational services, SIR manages to brig a change for the better in the life of hundreds of people with this type of disability. Our field of interest is represented by 4 major strategic directions: promoting the rights of people with deafblindness, health, education and social inclusion.
About Code for Romania
Code for Romania is the second largest organisation in the field of civic technology in the world. The association develops pro-bono software solution, in open-source system, to solve social issues, with the support of more than 1800 volunteers from Romania and Abroad. In 2020 alone, the solutions in the Covid-19 ecosystem (stirioficiale.ro, rohelp.ro, datelazi.ro etc) and the voting ecosystem (Vot Diaspora, Rezultate Vot etc.) have been used by over 8 million Romanians.
About Orange Foundation
Orange Foundation is a non-for-profit organisation involved in the life of the community, through the implementation of philanthropic projects meant to bring positive changes in the life of disadvantaged people. In more than 8 years of activity, Orange Foundation invested over 6.5 million Euro in digital education projects for disadvantaged people and in health, education and cultural projects for the benefit of people with visual or hearing impairments, aiming at their social integration. For more details, visit www.fundatiaorange.ro.
Bucharest. November 23rd 2020. The Foundation Sense International Romania is organising online The International Conference ”Deafblindness during the Pandemic”, between November 23 – 25, 2020.
After more than half a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world in which we live has changed and is still changing. People with deafblindness - children, adults or elderly - as well as their families, have found themselves facing more marginalisation and neglect, they are more vulnerable and more exposed to isolation than ever, during the crisis.
Deafblindness refers to a situation where a person is confronted with both visual and hearing impairments. It may be about children born this way, young people and adults acquiring it due to disease or accidents, or elderly people who gradually lose their sight and hearing because of old age. Regardless of the cause, we are convinced you agree that deafblindness is a severe disability, causing great challenges in communication, in the way people make friends and live their every day life.
Together with 25 international and national speakers from Great Britain, India, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia and Scotland we want to learn how the pandemic influences the process of communication for people with deafblindness, in what way can technology be of support, what are the challenges but also the opportunities during this time.
”We had planned a conference in the field of deafblindness for this autumn. We had planned it at the request of special education teachers working with children and young people with deafblindness, so as to learn from each other and to learn the latest news. But the pandemic came. Obviously, a face to face conference became impossible. We turned the pandemic challenge into an opportunity, by holding an international conference, to answer together to questions like: what is it like not to see or hear very well during the pandemic? How do you learn? How do you communicate? Can technology be of help? What are the opportunities, how about the challenges?” Etelka Czondi, Director Sense International Romania.
An important moment of the conference will be the launch of the platform e-Sense together with Code for Romania and Orange Foundation. Digital technology is increasingly prevalent in the education system and everyday life, but not for children with deafblindness. In order for them to have access to quality education and not to "fall behind", software is needed to adapt to their specific needs given by the combination of visual and hearing impairments.
On the internet page dedicated to the conference, there is more information about this event, including the Abstracts Book with summaries of all presentations and information about the speakers.
We thank the over 200 registered participants: parents, teachers, special education teachers, educators, psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists, doctors, students, other specialists, for their interest. The conference attendance is free of charge. However, any donation received from participants is welcomed and will contribute towards supporting children and young people with deafblindness, as well as towards organising future similar events.
Conference webpage: https://surdocecitate.ro/en/deafblindness-in-pandemic/
In a time when physical and social distancing has an influence on every aspect of our life, it is our responsibility to make sure that people with deafblindness are able to deal with these challenges, so that the risk of marginalisation, neglect and double isolation is as reduced as possible.
Why double isolation? Deafblindness represents a combination of both hearing and visual impairments, leading to great difficulties in communication, access to information, orientation and mobility. When these difficulties are overlapped by those caused by the pandemic, the risk of isolation becomes major.
In order to make the information on the COVID-19 pandemic accessible, we have produced a series of videos that address the major themes of the current life context, which are accessible to people with sensory impairments (in Romanian sign language, with contrast, subtitles and text, also in Romanian). In addition, in order to support the families of children with deafblindness, we have produced and translated materials containing activities ideas that can be done at home with the children, in order to continue the sensory stimulation that took place in schools.
Working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the special schools for visually impaired and hearing impaired children from all over the country, we have come to their aid during this period. We have donated materials to 16 schools across the country – transparent masks for better communication with hearing impaired people, disinfectants and other protective equipment against SARS-COV-2 virus.
"The transparent masks were a very pleasant surprise for our children," said the director of one of the partner kindergartens where children with deafblindness, multiple sensory impairments and hearing and vision impairments are enrolled. "It's difficult for them to understand what we're saying to them with surgical masks on our faces, but the fact that they can now see the mouth and read the lips of the interlocutor has turned the safety of wearing the mask into a fun play for them."
A big part of our lives happens online these days. Because we believe that children with deafblindness must also have access to quality education and not be "left behind", we have channeled much of our efforts in this area.
Thus, we are in the midst of implementing the project "e-Sense – using digital technology, we are revolutionizing the education of children with deafblindness". We are working on this project together with Code for Romania, a community of young professionals and enthusiasts who develop IT solutions with the aim of solving society's problems, as well as with three schools providing educational services to children and young people with deafblindness. We develop, test and we will approve e-Sense – a package of open source, free and accessible educational software for over 335 children with deafblindness in Romania, for their parents and their teachers. Intensive work is being done on this project and partner schools are receiving laptops for the teachers involved in the project and tablets for children to use. This project is funded by the Orange Foundation under the World through Color and Sound Funding Program, 2019 edition.
In 2021 we will start a new project, funded also by the Orange Foundation under the World through Color and Sound Funding Program, 2020 edition. The project is called "Sensi" and aims to create tools to protect children and young people with sensory impairments online, so as to diminish the risks of online abuse.
During this period we are developing an online course in the field of deafblindness. Over the years, we have organized many such courses for specialists working with children and young people with deafblindness. However, in order to reach as many professionals as possible, we decided last year to develop an online initiation course and a specialization course in this field. With financial support from Sense International UK and the Nelumbo Foundation, we hope to start the course in 2021.
Another good news for those interested is an event that will be held online from 23 to 25 November 2020, when we organize the International Conference "Deafblindness during the Pandemic".
With the input of international and national speakers, we want to know how the pandemic has influenced the communication process for people with deafblindness, how technology can support them, what are the challenges but also the opportunities during this period. The conference is aimed at a wide variety of public, those who in their work or in their daily lives interact with people with deafblindness: parents, teachers, special education teachers, psychologists, educators, doctors, social workers, physiotherapists, students, NGO representatives, other specialists in related fields.
The participation is free of charge for a limited number of participants. However, any donation received from participants is welcomed and will have a decisive contribution to supporting children and young people with deafblindness and to organizing similar events in the future. For more details, please access https://surdocecitate.ro/en/deafblindness-in-pandemic/
Today, professor Vasile Adamescu would have turned 76 years old. Please read below a few words written with warmth by his friend and interpreter, Viorel Micu.
On September 5th 1944, in the vilage Borcea, Ialomița County, on the left shore of the Danube river, Vasile Adamescu is born, the second child of Zamfir and Voica, a family of poor, but hard working peasants. Vasilică, as he was called by those close to him, was to go through a terrible misfortune: following meningitis, he loses both his hearing and his sight, when he was only 2 years old. He remains like that, silent and sad, spending an unhappy childhood on the dirt roads of his village until the age of 11. Then, he is taken to the School for Visually Impaired in Cluj, where he meets his teacher, Florica Sandu, a kindhearted and skilled special education teacher, who sees his potential and succeeds in bringing him out of darkness and silence.
Gifted with a will of iron and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge, Adamescu quickly absorbs every information and succeeds the impossible. He acquires speech, manages to learn a communication system easy to use by all those around him (The Block Alphabet, the writing of capital letters on the palm or other parts of the body), goes through 18 years of school and then becomes a university student studying Special Education.
One must take into account though the relentless work of his teachers, who had the advantage of being able to work with him individually, due to the fact that the Ministry of Education approved the establishment of a class where he was the only student.
If in the beginning he only knew a few signs to ask for water or food, over the years, the child who did not seem to have any chance of leading a relatively normal life, becomes a man useful to society, as he always liked to say. After graduating university, he returns to the school where he once studies, making his teachers proud. He teaches children with multisensory impairments for more than 30 years. Many generations went through his hands, and for them, Vasile Adamescu was the calm and loving teacher, that you go to with love.
Throughout his life, he fought for the rights of people with disabilities, particularly people with deafblindness, towards a better life for them, access to education and social life.
Passionate about arts and sculpture, he graduates the School of Arts, where he polishes his native talent. He worked on thousands of clay works, from birds and animals to cars and busts of great personalities.
He wrote his memoirs, publishing a series of volumes called Confronting Life, a book showing that nothing is impossible.
He receives countless awards and decorations, the most important of them – the National Order of Merit with the High Rank of Knight, given by the Romanian President, the title Senior Citizen of the City given by the Cluj Napoca town-hall, Promoter of the Rights of People with Deafblindness given by Sense International Romania.
”Love is a peculiar feeling, hard to express in words… i don’t even know if there is a clear definition. I believe that love is like air. You cannot live without love” says Vasile Adamescu.
At the end of year 2018, Vasile Adamescu passes away, going to a better world. He was not afraid of death, because he trusted God. Still, he had dreams, plans, hopes. It is our duty to never forget Vasile Adamescu the teacher, the mentor, the writer, the artist, the person who always surrounded us with warmth, smiling to us, giving us advice, loving us and using all his skills to educate children with disabilities in our country.
Today we present Playing Seasons, as it described by colleagues from Vasile Pavelcu Special Technological High School in Iaşi, through Prof. Coca Marlena Vasiliu, Prof. Daniela Anton, Prof. Elena Macovei, Prof. Mihaela Aionesa and Prof. Loredana Prisecaru, to whom we thank from the bottom of our hearts for answering our call.
In a relaxing atmosphere, children embark on a sensory journey through the four seasons, discovering the magic of the sound of rain, experiencing the pleasant sensation of raindrops, snowflakes, exploring with their hands and feet the grass, earth, water, raw and dried leaves, chestnuts, pine cones, feeling, in a chromatic game, the fresh and fragrant smell of spring flowers, tasting grapes, apples, nuts, strawberries and in a happy ending of the journey dancing.
What do we need?
Spring flowers - tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, flower branches, grass, snails, soil, fruit - strawberries.
How we do it?
On a relaxing musical background "Frédéric Chopin - Spring Waltz" children will smell spring flowers - hyacinths, daffodils, lilies of the valley and flower branches. Children can touch the grass, the soil and snails with their hands and feet, parents can sing "Melc, melc codobelc" to allow the child to observe the moment when snails remove their cornices. Children can taste strawberries. In the end, children and parents and dance together on the song “The colours of the flowers”.
What do we need?
Bowl full with water in which we insert sand or gel balls, seashells, stones, coloured jellies beans, coloured balloons.
How we do it?
Listening to Vivaldi’s Summer, children will insert their little hands into the bowls of water to explore by touch the gel balls (these will be inserted into water 48 hours before so as to increase their volume) and the sand. Also, children can touch the stones, hit one stone with another to produce weaker or stronger sounds and they can listen to the sound of waves inside seashells. Children can taste coloured jelly beans and drink lemonade. In the end, children and parents can dance together on „Baloane colorate” (Colourfull baloons).
What do we need?
Leaves, twigs, pine cones, chestnuts, tree bark, sprinklers and umbrella, nuts, grapes, apples, pears.
How we do it?
Listening to Vivaldi’s Autumn, children will explore through touch and small green and dried leaves, pine cones, chestnut, tree barks and branches. Using a sprinkler, parents can sprinkle tiny drops of water on their children and then use umbrellas for protection. Children can taste slices of apple, walnut and grapes. In the end, children and parents can dance together on „Ploaia” (The Rain).
What do we need?
Paper bolts made with the help of the perforator to mimic snow, artificial snow (made from baking soda and shaving foam), sensory bags to mimic the snowstorm (plastic zipp bags in which we inserted paper balls made using the perforator and a straw; we blow to mimic the storm), pine twigs and cones, candles and cinnamon essential oil, oranges and gingerbread.
How we do it?
Listening to Chopin’s Winter Waltz, parents can sift over their children tiny paper bolts made with the paper perforator. Using artificial snow, children can make snow balls. The sound of the blizzard can be simulated using sensory plastic bags filled with the paper bolts and straws. Children will blow (alone or with their parents’ help) through the straw and notice what happens: paper bolts will starts dancing inside the bag, leaving the impression of a snow blizzard. Children will touch and smell the pine cones and branches, can taste gingerbread and oranges. All this can happen while smelling the scent of candles sprayed with cinnamon essential oil. In the end, children and parents can dance together on „Fulgișori pe obrăjori” (Tiny Snowflakes on Cheeks).
To support children with deafblindness (and not only), but also their families, during this period when staying at home has become synonymous with safety, we propose a series of sensory play activities that can be carried out with materials and objects that do not require special investments or expenditure, but can make a huge difference in children's lives and , why not, offers the opportunity to do something new and fun at home in the family.
We receive ideas for #thursdayplay at email: firstname.lastname@example.org