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Initiation Course in the Field of Deaflindness

About the initiation course

The Foundation Sense International Romania is launching its first ever online learning platform www.cursuri.surdocecitate.ro. The first course available on the platform is the Initiation Course in the Field of Deafblindness, organised between October 11 - November 28 2021.

Choosing to take the Initiation Course in the Field of Deafblindness provided by the Foundation Sense International Romania, you will understand what deafblindness is, by going through a series of modules which approach themes such as the historical context of this type of multisensory impairment, the main causes, the way in which people with deafblindness communicate.

You will learn about important principles regarding orientation and mobility, personal and social development, methods of intervention and the specifics of deafblindness with children, adults and elderly people with deafblindness. The course will provide fundamental elements that you will be able to use both in your personal and professional life.

Sense International Romania has an experience of more than 20 years of training in this field, and now this experience is moved online. We therefore hope that you will join us online, between October 11 - November 28 2021, for the first online initiation course in deafblindness.

Competences and skills

Graduating this course, you will get to know the fundamental element related to:

  • What is the meaning of deafblindness/multisensory impairments, which are the main types and causes, notions of anatomy and physiology of senses: vision, hearing, tactile.
  • How to assess a child with deafblindness, which are the main tools and types of intervention, including early intervention for small children.
  • How people with deafblindness communicate.
  • Notions on orientation and mobility in the context of deafblindness.
  • Notions on the social and personal development of people with deafblindness.
  • Notions and particularities for adults and elperly persons with deafblindness.

Course development

The course is structured in 10 modules, adding up to a total of 74 hours of study, each module taking place as follows:

  • Online courses in the presence of the trainer, using ZOOM platform, 7 meetings * 2 hours = 14 hours;
  • Course materials - individual study,  5 hours * 10 modules = 50 hours;
  • Interim evaluations, quizzes, 1 hour * 10 modules = 10 hours.

Moving on from one module to another depends on successfully solving the quizzes meant to check the knowledge gained in the previous module. The course ends after all 10 modules are finalised.

At the end, the learning effort will be awareded with a Graduation Diploma issued by the Foundation Sense International Romania.

Costs

Attending this course comes with a cost of 450 lei and it covers the costs of trainers and e-learning platform.

The maximum number of participants per course is 30.

The payment can be made by bank card as a sponsorship when registering onto the platform or bank transfer into the account RO21RNCB0077050232290004 opened with BCR Sector 6 București mentioning DEAFBLINDNESS INITIATION COURSE NAME-SURNAME.

Subsequently, each participant will receive the sposnorship contract signed by Sense International Romania, which then needs to be sent back to the organised signed by e-mail or post.

The costs are the following:

Early-bird registration until September 30 - 395 lei.

Registration after October 1 - 450 lei.

Serenity, Joy, Boldness… Together Again!

It was back in February 2020 that we had our last face-to-face meeting with the children and young people with deafblindness. It was a winter encounter, with tons of snow and lots of smiles and happiness as they all had their very first experience skiing. And then the pandemic came and we had to put a stop to all such experiences, moving as much as possible into the online.

Of the things we moved online was the advocacy and leadership work with a small group of young adults with deafblindness. Since January, every last Thursday of the month was about them, discussing important themes such as the right to education, to health, to work and employment, keeping safe while online and the right to fun, leisure and sports.

The beginnings were not easy at all, trying to communicate while online proved more of a challenge than we expected. Poor internet connection, insufficient face and body language, all of these made it difficult to communicate. Having a sign language interpreter improved things a lot, the group started becoming more vocal, sharing ideas and personal experiences, getting to know and trust each other.

Din nou împreună...

July came and, after carefully considering all the risks, we took the decision to finally have a face-to-face meeting with the group. We all gathered together in Predeal, seven brave young people – 3 young women and 4 young men – accompanied by 5 parents and 1 sibling.

We had serious discussions about what deafblindness is. To some of the young people, it was a revelation to understand that them, having both hearing and visual impairments, meant they were young people with deafblindness. We talked about people with disabilities in general, and people with deafblindness in particular, who made it in life and succeeded in overcoming all challenges. We talked about the importance of education and how this leads to an independent life, we talked about their rights as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. We talked about what it means to write a resume, to look for a job, go to an interview, sign a work contract – what are the rights and responsibilities involved. Because the entire group consisted of young people over the age of 18, therefore young adults, we discussed the concept and importance of volunteering and, by the end of the workshop, they all agreed to become volunteers of Sense International Romania, advocates for the rights of people with deafblindness.

We had fun as well together, taking a trip by train to visit Peleș Castle in Sinaia. While the hike to the castle was quite hard for some of the participants, everyone – young people and parents alike – enjoyed getting there and admiring all the beauties of the castle. Upon return, we created and hand-painted frames for a photo session at the end of the meeting.

Seninătatea... bucuria... îndrăzneala

I really enjoyed our trip to Peles Castle in Sinaia! But there is something that I enjoyed even more than that… it is the serenity, the joy, the boldness… I am not sure which word is the better choice, to want more for our children – not in a fierce way but somehow naturally!

said S.T., the mother of a young man who graduated the vocational services developed by Sense International Romania and the partner school.

People with deafblindness and hearing impairments perceive sounds differently, including grammar

You can find below a life story. Dorel Santi is a person with deafblindness from Sibiu, a true advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. We thank him for giving us the permission to publish his story on our website.

In June, the entire world celebrates the Helen Keller month – the month of deafblindness. Helen Keller is a symbol, she lost both her sight and hearing at the age of 19 months. She was a writer, the first person with deafblindness to graduate college. At national level, we have Vasile Adamescu. Officially, he was a blind person because the law does not allow for people with deafblindness to have a personal assistant.

Deafblindness = a person with both hearing and visual impairments, a different degrees, or the lack of both senses. Deafblindness generates major difficulties in communication, orientation and mobility. Deafblindness has 2 categories: congenital/from birth and acquired.

I thought hard whether to write a few words about myself or not. Some people know me personally, others via social networks.

I am a person with deafblindness from birth, I cannot see with my right eye and I can hear almost nothing with my left ear, I am wearing hearing aids on both ears and I have a ”French” accent due to the hearing impairment.

I went to mainstream school and, at one point in the first class, I was transferred to the Special Inclusive School no. 1 on Sibiu – not no. 2, for children with hearing impairments, probably because they thought I had other issues as well. After a few weeks, the inclusive school director called my parents in and told them: ”take him back to mainstream school, he is more intelligent than the typical children”.

I attended all school competitions in mathematics and geography, starting from the fifth grade until the end of high school. Mathematics helped me a lot when entering high school and at university. On the other hand, I was really bad at grammar, almost failed to pass the year, as people with deafblindness and hearing impairments perceive sounds differently, including grammar.  In secondary school, I had a Romanian language teacher who made us read one book and learn by heart one poem per week. I used to hate him for having to do this instead of playing football and hanging out in the neighbourhood. Maybe it was all for the best, as I got my taste for reading.

In high school, I was followed and investigated by the Securitate (military police) for anti-communist propaganda, as per my file at the National Council for the Study of Security Archives, I had been given up by my best colleagues and friends. After graduating high school, I went into the army at Diribau, doing agricultural work and constructions. Due to my disability, I should not have been called into the army, but this is what he Romanian Communist Party wanted for me.

After the army, I entered the Economic Studies Academy inBucharest, distance education. I hated he capital city, I used to go once every two weeks there to copy/write the courses from my colleague students, as back then there were no copying machines. I abandoned university 2 years later and I started the Faculty of Economic Sciences in Sibiu. I wanted to abandon this one as well, during my first year I thought higher education was not for me: i wasn’t able to hear what the professors were teaching, but eventually I graduated with a scholarship in both thirds and fourth year.

I was married to an economy teacher. I worked in the private sector, but I also worked as a public clerk. Currently, I am retired due to health issues caused by a double coxarthrosis surgery on both hips, I have difficulties walking, I walk like a duck or a goose. In school, I was an athletics champion.

I worked as a public clerk at Sibiu Townhall, with two mayors, Condurat and Iohannis, enrolled in the HR Department until 2000, and after that I was appointed chief of a newly established office dealing with personal assistants and people with disabilities. My first year of work was titanic, we took over all work books from IPHS, they needed to be checked, length of work had to be calculated. After I left, the office ”vanished” into the Social Work department.

I sued to attend many events, seminars, lectures and even electoral debates in the field of disability. Once, I was invited by a university professor to talk to students about my life as a person with disabilities. I didn’t ‚now what to say to them, I told them a few things about myself, I said I have the same needs as the other person, I earn my living through work, I have hobbies, I like parties and women, that in high school or in university we had parties and drinking evening every week. At one point, I simply let them ask the questions. At the end, I was surprised when the students invited me to have a beer with them.

Five years ago, I was refused and humiliated at a job interview, when I mentioned I have a disability, the interviewer suddenly stood up and left. I came home angry, feeling like I needed to do something for people with disabilities. I contacted Matei Ghigiu to create a group where we can debate inclusion, independent living, accessibility and the rights of people with disabilities. He told me this is in vain, there are only a handful of specialists in the field and that is why he didn’t want in. I abandoned the idea, so the group and the page are only to promote disability.

Happy Children’s Day!

We wish all children around the world a sincere and warm HAPPY CHILDREN'S DAY today, June 1. Also today, we warmly announce the start of the Helen Keller International Day, an event so dear to us, a month dedicated to raising awareness of deafblindness under the slogan Together again!

We thank the 14 partner schools that, so far, have gladly sent us their plans to celebrate a prominent figure in the field of deafblindness, Helen Keller.

Together again!

During the whole month of June, approximately 500 children with deafblindness and sensory deficiencies from Arad, Bucharest, Buzau, Cluj Napoca, Focșani, Galați, Iași, Oradea, Sibiu, Târgu Frumos and Timișoara, together with over 150 teachers and parents, will perform various activities to mark this special moment in the world of deafblindness: creative workshops in sculpture, painting and drawing, sensory games, theater, pantomime and dance, culinary art, gardening, community awareness activities, nature trips, museum visits, therapy with horses etc.

Our desire is to give children and young people with deafblindness the chance to be noticed not only because of their uniqueness, but especially because with support, any child, young person and adult with deafblindness can show what they can do and how can get involved.

Our partners

Arad, Sfânta Maria Special High School; Arad, School Center for Inclusive Education; Bucharest, Special Gymnasium School for the Visually Impaired; Bucharest, Sfânta Maria Special Vocational School for the Deaf; Bucharest, Special Technological High School no. 3; Buzau, Special Technological High School for Children with Hearing Impairments; Buzau, Special High School for Visually Impaired Children; Cluj Napoca, Special High School for the Visually Impaired; Focșani, Elena Doamna School Center for Inclusive Education; Galați, Paul Popescu Neveanu Special Vocational School, structure of the Emil Gârleanu Special Vocational School; Iasi, Vasile Pavelcu Special Technological High School; Oradea, Cristal Inclusive Education School Center; Sibiu, School Center for Inclusive Education No. 2; Târgu Frumos, Moldova Special High School; Timișoara, Constantin Pufan School Center for Inclusive Education.

Photo source: Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Sensi: Report on the Online Behavior of Children and Youth with Sensory Impairments

Sensi: Report on the Online Behavior of Children and Youth with Sensory Impairments

The Sense International Romania Foundation aims to study the behavior of children and young people with sensory impairments in the online environment, in order to understand the impact of the use of social media, especially in the online protection and safety segment.

According to a study  developed in 2019 by Save the Children, 96% of children access the Internet using a smartphone and an equally high percentage, use at least one social platform to keep in touch with friends, entertainment or to have access to various information related to school or other hobbies.

The Sensi research conducted between February and March 2021 included a quantitative part aimed at distributing a questionnaire to young people and children with sensory impairments and deafblindness, a questionnaire that could be completed online, but also a qualitative part by discussing issues related to online protection and safety with a small group of young people.

About the project

Sensi - Online Safety for Children with Sensory Impairment is a project that aims to provide children and young people with sensory impairments and deafblindness with the tools, knowledge and confidence needed to reduce the risk of abuse online: cyberbullying, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, via animated clips.

Sensi, the main character of the videos, will be the star of a few animated short films that will help them protect themselves against potential online abuse.

The project is carried out at national level, with the support of 18 special schools from Arad, Bucharest, Buzau, Cluj Napoca, Craiova, Focșani, Galaţi, Iași, Oradea, Sibiu and Timișoara.

An important component of the project is an online research aimed at analyzing the behavior of children with sensory impairments in the online environment. With the support of teachers and school directors, data on the witch type of internet access the children have and their usual online behavior, what websites they use and why, what type of social media they use and why, will be included in the research.

The purpose of this activity is to have a comprehensive picture of the existing situation, and the results obtained are found in this research report, which will be used for the development of project materials.

 

Long-term positive impact

  • Promoting and awareness of the risks that exist in the online environment and the ways in which these risks can be avoided or diminished.
  • Improving the quality of life for these children, which will allow them to lead an autonomous life and enjoy social integration without risks of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
  • Having a current picture on the situation of children with sensory impairments in Romania with the help of the questionnaire applied online, useful research for future projects.

The project takes place between January and December 2021 and it's funded by The Orange Foundation through the World through Color and Sound 2020 Program. Its total value is 104,721 lei, the contribution of the Orange Foundation being 91,886 lei.

The Parent’s 10 Commandments for the Specialist

Norman Brown, parent of a child with deafblindness, a professor at the Birmingham University and coordinator of the
programme to support parents of children with deafblindness, wrote the ”Parent's 10 Commandments for the Specialist”:

  1. 1. Assure me that I speak with someone who knows what it is all about!
    2. Do not forget that I know what I talk about!
    3. Do your best to find someone who has gone through what I am going through!
    4. Be honest with me!
    5. Truly help me, don't just give me advice!
    6. Involve me in everything you do with my child!
    7. Don't teach my child without teaching me!
    8. Accept my weakness!
    9. Accept your weakness!
    10. Don't tell me you understand, show me that you understand!

Photo by Dragos Gontariu on Unsplash

8 Women with Deafblindness

We propose that today, March 8, we get to know the life stories of eight women with deafblindness who, through their strength and determination, broke the barriers created by their lack of sight and hearing and managed to prove that nothing is impossible.

Victorine Morriseau (1789-1832, France) was the first known person with deafblindness who learned a formal language of communication (in a religious context).

Laura Bridgman (1829 –1889, U.S.A.)  was the first educated  child with deafblindness in the United States, more than 50 years before Helen Keller. At the age of two, due to scarlet fever, she loses her sight, hearing, smell and taste. She arrives at the Perkins Institute for the Blind where she learns to communicate using tactile finger-spelling and Braille.

Ragnhild Kåta (1873 – 1947, Norway) was the first person with deafblindness in Norway to receive a formal education. At the age of three, she lost four of her five senses: sight, hearing, taste and smell, most likely from scarlet fever. At the age of 15, she started studying at the Hamar Institute for the Deaf where she learnt to read and write in Braille, but also to speak. She learnt to embroider, knit and weave, thus becoming independent.

Helen Keller (1880 – 1968, U.S.A.) she is probably the best known person with deafblindness in the world. An extremely strong woman, she became a writer and activist for the rights of people with disabilities, despite the fact that, at the age of only 1 year and a half, she completely lost both her sight and hearing, due to an illness - most likely meningitis. With the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, also a visually impaired person, she learnt to communicate, then attended the courses of the Perkins Institute for the Blind and then Harvard University, becoming the first person with deafblindness with a degree in arts.

Ragnhild Kåta

Laura Bridgman

Helen Keller, Theresa Lin Chan

Yvonne Pitrois (1880 –1937, France) was a writer. At the age of 7, she lost her hearing due to fever caused by sunstroke, and her vision was deeply affected. She wrote numerous articles in France, England, Switzerland and the United States and at the age of only 18 she published her first book. She became a member of the French Academy in 1929.

Alice Chapman (1901 –1966, Australia), the first person with deafblindness to receive an education in Australia. She lost both her sight and hearing at just two years old due to meningitis. She learned to communicate at the Institute for the Hearing Impaired, a school she graduated from and where she remained as a teacher.

Olga Skorokhodova (1911 – 1982, U.S.S.R.) was a scientist, therapist, teacher and writer. She was born in a small town in the U.S.S.R. (now Ukraine) and at the age of five she lost both her sight and hearing due to meningitis. At the age of 13, she arrived at the Clinical School for Deafblind Children, where, under the guidance of Professor Ivan Sokolyansky, she learned to speak and communicate. She became a researcher at the Institute for People with Disabilities within the Soviet Academy of Pedagogical Sciences.

Theresa Poh Lin Chan (1943 –2016, Singapore), writer and teacher, she lost her hearing at the age of 12 and her sight two years later. She was accepted to the Perkins Institute for the Blind, where she studied mathematics, learned to dance, ride, skate, and knit. It was there that she fulfilled her greatest dream, that of meeting Helen Keller. She later became a teacher at the School for the Blind in Singapore.

Yvonne Pitrois

Alice Chapman

Olga Skorokhodova

Information and photo source: Wikipedia

20 Years with Sense

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:

REASONS TO CELEBRATE

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.

WE MUST LISTEN TO THEIR VOICE

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.

LOOKING FORWARD

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.

2020 with Sense

A full year for Sense International Romania

  • We started the e-Sense project, through a meeting with the team project consisting of representatives of partners: Sense International Romania, Code for Romania, School Centre for Inclusive Education ”Cristal” Oradea, Special Technological Highschool "VasilePavelcu" Iasi and School Centre for Inclusive Education „Constantin Pufan” Timişoara. The project is funded by the Orange Foundation through the World through Color and Sound 2019 Program.

 

  • We organized a trip to the mountains where children and young people with deafblindness participated in communication and socialization activities, orientation and mobility - among others, for the first time for them, they learned to ski.

 

  • We organized the Beyond the Senses event - where the organization's partners and funders experienced deafblindness in the Sensory Tent, on the occasion of its 19th anniversary.

 

  • We started the Education with Sense International project, funded by the Nelumbo Foundation through Sense International UK, which aims to conduct an online course in the field of deafblindness and the formation of a group of young people with deafblindness in advocacy and leadership.

 

  • We organized our first online workshop in the field of deafblindness, part of the e-Sense project.

 

  • We have equipped special schools where children with deafblindness study with transparent masks, disinfectants and other protective equipment against the SARS-COV-2 virus, replacing the usual activities organized in schools on the occasion of International Helen Keller Week.

 

  • We equipped the partner schools in the e-Sense project with tablets for children with deafblindness and laptops for teachers.

 

  • We have created accessible videos, in sign language, with contrast, subtitles and text, addressed to people with visual and hearing impairments, addressing major issues of the current context of life - what this virus means, how to protect ourselves, what to do if we have symptoms, from where do we get information?

 

  • We developed the Sensi project - online safety for children and young people with sensory disabilities, a project funded by the Orange Foundation through the World through Color and Sound 2020 Program.

 

  • For families, we made and translated materials containing ideas for activities, games and exercises that can be done with children with deafblindness at home, with minimal costs, to continue the therapy that took place in schools, through the series of materials #thursdayplay.

 

  • For teachers, parents, psychologists, educators, social workers, doctors, physiotherapists, students - we organized for free the Online International Conference Deafblindness in the context of the pandemic.

 

  • We launched the Campaign I TOO HAVE A VOICE! on the occasion of December 3 - International Day of People with Disabilities - through which children and young people with deafblindness will have a better understanding of their rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

 

  • At the end of the year, we thank all those who have been and are with us. We especially thank the companies that, despite a difficult year, have chosen to direct 20% of the profit tax to the cause of children and young people with deafblindness in Romania.

The rights of people with disabilities – explained for children

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:

  • Equal rights;
  • Girls and women with disabilities;
  • Children with disabilities;
  • Freedom, safety, protection;
  • Independent life, mobility;
  • Education;
  • Health;
  • Family;
  • Fun, good times and sports.

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:

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