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Making play inclusive: sensory stories

Sensory Stories

You can adapt any story to become a sensory story – all you need is a little imagination and sourcing the materials to bring the story to life. In this video, you can learn how to make a sensory story using everyday objects such as dolls and shoes. Sensory stories are a fantastic way for children with complex disabilities to play while also developing their communication and learning how to read independently.

Video made by: Sense - connecting sight, sound and life
Sense Specialist Services for Children & Young People

COVID-19 and Deafblindness

Recommendations on inclusive policies from the global deafblind community.

In these times of turmoil, with the whole world severely affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, combined with other critical incidents like the recent earthquake in Zagreb, Croatia, we must ensure that those who are the most left behind, neglected, vulnerable and exposed to double isolation in any crisis, persons with deafblindness, are also equally protected according to Article 11 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Representing between 0.2% to 2% of the global population, an estimated 15 to 155 million persons on earth experience combined hearing and vision impairments – deafblindness. Adding dual sensory impairment due to aging, the number rises to 6% implying as many as 467 million experience a degree of deafblindness during life[1]. This group of persons with deafblindness must not be neglected and forgotten during this time of crisis.

Furthermore, we would like to emphasize that the number of those persons rises with age, making the elderly in our society more vulnerable to the virus. Older persons with deafblindness experience a higher risk than most others as, in addition to being in the high-risk group due to age, they struggle to cope with both accessing and processing information, as well as resolving daily tasks such as shopping for essentials like basic food and/or medicine, a couple of examples among many issues being faced. The crucial fact is that the combination of their dual sensory impairment and age strongly impacts on and increases the complexity of their situation, increasing their need for proper services to reduce risk of serious and severe health complications due to COVID-19.

The General Comment No. 2 on Article 9: Accessibility of the CRPD commits state parties to enable persons with deafblindness to access information, communication and other services in order to live independently and to effectively participate in socitey.

That is why the European Deafblind Union (EDbU), according to the received inputs from its national members, compiled the following recommendations which are essential in providing the same standard of services and support to the deafblind persons in the everyday life and severe crises such as this pandemic.

The European Deafblind Union (EDbU), the African Federation of the Deafblind (AFDB), the Latin American Federation of the Deafblind (FLASC) and the World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) urges the UN, WHO, EU bodies, state parties and governments across the world to ensure that:

The importance of media access – All media communication should be in plain language and accessible for persons with deafblindness through (but not limited to) closed captioning, national sign language, clear-speech translation, high contrast and large print publications. It must also be made available at the same time while information is given.

Dissemination of official information – Official COVID-19 instructions, guidance and guidelines should be provided in accessible formats for Deafblind persons that includes large print and braille.

Access to Service Providers – All services provided to the public due to the COVID-19 outbreak like Red Cross services, telephone helplines and other providers of support and/or psychological help are accessible to all persons with deafblindness.

Access to Digital Media – Digital media should include accessible formats in plain language for deafblind persons. Special online access should also be given in plain text format (without any pictures and advertising) which may need adjusting if required. It is also essential for text and/or email messages to be sent with such information upon request.

Access to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) – Urgent priority should be considered to ensure that all persons with deafblindness can be given priority access to protective gear such as masks and gloves due to the extreme difficulty of doing so because of mobility limits during lockdowns or impossibility to finding help.

Protecting the Deafblind interpreters (interpreter-guides) – The nature of our unique disability of Deafblindness encourages close proximity and touching of hands with Deafblind interpreters (interpreter-guides) which allows to follow information on the environment surrounding them and translations from spoken/written language. Therefore, Deafblind interpreters (interpreter-guides) who work in emergency and health settings should be given the same health and safety protections as other health care workers dealing with COVID19.

Awareness raising – Immediate awareness raising on support to Deafblind persons is essential and should be established together with national organisations who should also have a key role in protection campaigns.

Access to services while in quarantine or in need of medical help – During quarantine or when in need of health services, deafblind persons must have access to Deafblind interpreting services (including interpreter-guides), support services, personal assistance as well as physical accessibility. As such, persons with deafblindbess cannot be deprioritized on the basis of their disability.

Access to work and education – Remote work or education services must be equally accessible to all employees/students with deafblindness.

Restrictions during COVID-19 crisis – Measures of public restrictions such as gatherings limit of 2 persons in some places must consider persons with deafblindness on an equal basis with others. This is due to the fact that most, if not all, deafblind persons still need a Deafblind interpreter to help them to get all necessary instructions and information when they do not have family support or where alternative communication methods have failed, therefore, it is vital that our unique disability is treated with respect under such restrictions.

For DPOs representing persons with deafblindness we advise a reduction of all direct services and organise work from home if possible while still ensuring and continuing:

  • Organisation of the Deafblind interpreting (interpreter-guide) services for persons with deafblindness, so that they can urgently reach out and help elderly and lonely persons with deafblindness
  • The vital task to make sure that the most isolated deafblind persons receive the most urgent information, all conveyed in their preferred mode of communication, while also ensuring that they have prioritized access to food and medicines
  • Recognition of deafblind persons – advise them to use red-white canes so they are more visible and/or hold at least an official card that indicates their deafblindness to the authorities and emergency services.

The European Deafblind Union (EDbU), the African Federation of the Deafblind (AFDB), the Latin American Federation of the Deafblind (FLASC) and the World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) are available to assist authorities and other organisations with guidance and information regarding the equal and accessible services as well as information for persons with deafblindness.

[1] https://www.wfdb.eu/deafblindness-and-inequality/

Photo source: https://www.brailleinstitute.org/event/aim-to-be-safe

COVID-19: Who is protecting the people with disabilities? – UN rights expert

GENEVA (17 March 2020) – Little has been done to provide people with disabilities with the guidance and support needed to protect them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even though many of them are part of the high-risk group, today warned the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Catalina Devandas.

“People with disabilities feel they have been left behind,” the UN human rights expert said. “Containment measures, such as social distancing and self-isolation, may be impossible for those who rely on the support of others to eat, dress and bathe.”

“This support is basic for their survival, and States must take additional social protection measures to guarantee the continuity of support in a safe manner throughout the crisis.”

The UN expert stressed that reasonable accommodation measures are essential to enable people with disabilities to reduce contacts and the risk of contamination. They should be allowed to work from home or receive paid leave to guarantee their income security. Family members and caregivers may also require reasonable accommodation to provide support to people with disabilities during this period.

“Access to additional financial aid is also vital to reduce the risk of people with disabilities and their families falling into greater vulnerability or poverty,” she explained.

“Many people with disabilities depend on services that have been suspended and may not have enough money to stockpile food and medicine, or afford the extra cost of home deliveries.”

Devandas also noted that the situation of people with disabilities in institutions, psychiatric facilities and prisons is particularly grave, given the high risk of contamination and the lack of external oversight, aggravated by the use of emergency powers for health reasons.

“Restrictions should be narrowly tailored, and use the least intrusive means to protect public health” she said. “Limiting their contact with loved ones leaves people with disabilities totally unprotected from any form of abuse or neglect in institutions.

“States have a heightened responsibility towards this population due to the structural discrimination they experience.”

The UN expert stressed that persons with disabilities deserve to be reassured that their survival is a priority and urged States to establish clear protocols for public health emergencies to ensure that, when medical resources are scarce, access to healthcare, including life-saving measures, does not discriminate against people with disabilities.

“To face the pandemic, it is crucial that information about how to prevent and contain the coronavirus is accessible to everyone”, she explained.

“Public advice campaigns and information from national health authorities must be made available to the public in sign language and accessible means, modes and formats, including accessible digital technology, captioning, relay services, text messages, easy-to-read and plain language.”

“Organizations of people with disabilities should be consulted and involved in all stages of the COVID-19 response,” Devandas concluded.

Source: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25725&LangID=E

Orientation and mobility on skis

For three day, a group of young people with deafblindness and multisensory impairments accompanied by their teachers and Sense International Romania staff, attended the annual Orientation and Mobility trip which took place in Predeal, a mountain resort in the center of the country.

Participants spent wonderful moments together, getting to know each other better through games and group exercises, learning from each other, trusting themselves and those around. They worked individually and in teams, created arts and crafts and carnival masks, enjoyed a raffle and the time spent together.

The novelty for this year’s activity was the fact that the young people, for the first time in their life, experienced skiing. With the support of four enthusiastic volunteer ski instructors, they had their very first experience on a ski slope: they learned how to slide, break and come down a small hill.

My skiing experience was both pleasant and fun. I am happy that I was able to learn something new, something I never thought I would ever try, says I.D., a 19 years old young man included in the Sense International Romania Vocational Pogramme.

Working with these special young people from Arad, Bucharest, Focșani and Timișoara has been a unique experience for me. I was pleasantly surprised by how fast they caught up on some skiing techniques, by their courage and their ability to learn. I am happy we had the opportunity to work together, says one of the skiing instructors.

The trip is part of Sense International Romania efforts to work with groups of young people with deafblindness and multisensory impairments on independent living skills, team work and youth leadership, providing them with the necessary tools to become a voice in promoting the rights of people with deafblindness.

Mobilitate

Mobilitate altfel - episodul 3 :)Am învățat să ne echipăm, să alunecăm, să frânăm, să ne ținem echilibrul pe schiuri.Mulțumim din suflet Bianca Vlad, Ioana Cuzuioc, Catalin Laurentiu Neague și Cristian Blascu că ne-ați scos curajul la iveală.#surdocecitate #dincolodesimturi

Publicată de Sense International Romania pe Duminică, 23 februarie 2020

Ramona donates her birthday to children with deafblindness

Our colleague Ramona Antonie is celebrating 14 years of working at Sense International Romania with and for people with deafblindness this year. And to mark this particular moment, she started a fundraising campaign by donating her birthday through the Galantom platform. She set out to raise 4,100 RON for a project in which children and young people with deadblindness  are encouraged to get out of the usual patterns and try new things, different from what they do at home or at school.

Each of the 14 years means for Ramona a reason for joy and professional and personal satisfaction, we play below the first 5 reasons, as she shared them on Facebook:

This year I decided to donate my birthday to children and young people with deafblindness from Sense International Romania projects.

That's why, starting today, I'm going to write, for every year I've spent in the organization, a reason that kept me here, close to them.

 

1th REASON 

14 years with Sense International Romania and children with deafblindness.

In 2006, on a wonderful afternoon in Cluj Napoca, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Vasile Adamescu with his interpreter, Viorel Micu, Camelia Paian, a person who is very involved in the lives of people with deafblindness, as well as other people alike, in order to celebrate that, finally, the deafblindness was officially recognized by law 448/2006. And my life has changed!

2nd REASON

14 years with Sense International Romania and children with deafblindness.

Early intervention,  project stuck well to my soul, began in 2007 and then for 10 years expanded into 4 centers in the country. The image attached to this post is from Iasi, when the Early Intervention Support Center at Pavelcu High School was officially launched. What's so special about this project? It offered the chance of early detection at birth, by testing hearing and vision in neonatology wards in partner hospitals. More information can be found on https://surdocecitate.ro/ro/ce-facem/interventie-timpurie/

3rd REASON

14 years with Sense International Romania and children with deafblindness.

One of the important things you learn in a non-governmental organization is that the sources of income for project development do not simply exist, but come from funding projects written by employees in the organization, projects that can be successful or not, fundraising projects like campaigns form 2% or 20%, or fundraising through Swimathon projects (swimming) or various running competitions, or other beautiful ideas meant to bring financial support.

Being present and supporting project beneficiaries is an ongoing challenge. One such fundraising project is the Donate Your Birthday campaign, as I do during this period.

My birthday is on March 11th and I have proposed that by this date I will raise the sum of 4100 RON, correspondent of the age of 41. The reason I post every day is an introduction to what we do and especially for who we do these projects, because that's how I want my friends or acquaintances to choose, that instead of buying me a flower (I love flowers), to congratulate me by supporting this project.

4th REASON

14 years with Sense International Romania and children with deafblindness.

If in the description of the first reason we were talking about the recognition of deafblindness in the law, in 2008 a group of dedicated and enthusiastic teachers, specialized in deafblindness and involved with Sense International Romania in a partnership with the Ministry of Education, developed a curriculum for deafblindness, a curriculum that is the basis of school programs dedicated to children with deafblindness. https://surdocecitate.ro/ro/ce-facem/educatie/And from this year until the end of 2021, this curriculum will be translated into an educational software that will help teachers, but also the parents of these children. Stay tuned and you'll hear about #eSense.

Why am I here? Because there is coherence and structure in the programs that we develop.

5th REASON

14 years with Sense International Romania and children with deafblindness.

People, children and young people with deafblindness are presented in a positive perspective, highlighting personal resources and skills acquired during projects with partner schools.You can see images from projects by going to your organization's Facebook page Sense International Romania.

The perfect birthday present is for them, so follow the link in the post, identify the green button 💝I want to make a donation💝 and give them a gift, a gift to children and young people with deafblindness.

 

Thank you, Ramona, for your wonderful gesture!

At 19, we look forward

Today, February 2, 2020, when Sense International Romania turns 19 years old, we do not look back, but look forward.

Everything we have achieved so far is important, but everything we aim for for the coming year is equally important:

  • We will organize several orientation and mobility trips for  children and young people with deafblindness from our projects.

 

  • We will think and organize, for the first time, lobbying, advocacy and leadership courses for a group of young people with deafblindness so that they can make their voices heard;

 

  • Together with Code for Romania, CSEI Timişoara, CSEI Oradea and Pavelcu High School, we will work on e-Sense, the first educational software dedicated to children with deafblindness, through a project funded by the Orange Foundation.

 

  • We will start work on the first e-learning platform that will offer courses in the field of of deafblindness for teachers, parents, for anyone interested in this field.

 

  • We will continue the tradition of organizing in schools across the country activities with hundreds of children to mark the Helen Keller International Feast.

 

  • For the third year in a row, we will mark 3 December – International Day of Persons with Disabilities, in partner schools all over the country, an event dedicated to Mr Vasile Adamescu.

 

  • In the autumn we will organize the First National Conference on Deafblindness, an opportunity for specialists in the field to learn from each other the latest methods and techniques of working with the child with deafblindness.

 

  • We will continue to promote the rights of people with deafblindness by participating with the Sensory Tent Beyond Senses at events, conferences, etc. Call us and we’ll come.

Vasile Adamescu – Beyond Senses

December 3 – The International Day of People with Disabilities

December 3 was designated by the United Nations – the International Day of People with Disabilities. This year, Sense International Romania organizes a series of activities to mark this day, dedicated to the one who was Professor Vasile Adamescu (05.09.1944 – 06.12.2018), a person with deafblindness who, despite the lack of sight and hearing, succeeded extraordinary performances.

At a very young age, Vasile Adamescu completely lost his vision and hearing. Having an extraordinary will and supported by his teachers at the Special High School for Visually Impaired Children Cluj Napoca, Vasile Adamescu became a teacher, a sculptor, an artist, a writer and fought for the rights of people with deafblindness as a Board member of the Sense International Romania.

Activities in 15 schools all over Romania

Various activities such as clay modeling, sculpture, pottery, pantomime, experiential theatre, painting, drawing, candle making, glass painting are just a few examples of the multitude of activities that children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments, their parents and  teachers from 15 special schools in Arad, Bucharest, Buzău, Cluj Napoca, Craiova, Focşani, Galaţi, Iaşi, Oradea, Sibiu, Târgu Frumos and Timisoara, partner schools of Sense International Romania, will run at the beginning of  December as part of the project “Vasile Adamescu – Beyond senses”.

About Deafblindness – Inside the Sensory Tent

In parallel, Sense International Romania takes part in the 10th edition of the Diversity Week organized by British Council Romania under the umbrella of diversity, equal opportunities and inclusiveness.  On Tuesday, December 3rd, on the occasion of the International Day of People with Disabilities, Sense International Romania invites you to a unique experience through the activity “Beyond senses – about deafblindness, inside the sensory tent”, at the British Council Library. On December3-4, between 14:00-17:00, those present will have the opportunity to experiment for a few minutes, inside the sensory tent, what a person with deafblindness feels.

Vasile Adamescu and Viorel Micu inside the Sensory Tent

«On December 3, every year, we are celebrating the International Day of People with Disabilities, a day when, every time, we think about equal opportunities, inclusion, normality, a country that is capable of genuinely supporting people with special needs.

This year, at the special initiative of Sense International Romania, December 3rd will be a special one dedicated to Professor Vasile Adamescu, a person with deafblindness, who is no longer among us and who has been and remains a standard, an example to follow. In the pages of his autobiographical book, titled suggestively “Confronting Life”, Vasile Adamescu describes the greatest success in Romanian special education, educating and training a person without hearing and sight. As he said so many times, I also urge you to fight for each child, to have a lot of patience, to put in a lot of work and to be a united team: child, teachers and parents.

It is our duty not to forget Vasile Adamescu, the teacher, the mentor, the writer, the artist and the MAN, who once surrounded us with warmth, who smiled upon us, gave advice, loved us, and who used all his skills to educate children with disabilities in our country.»

Viorel Micu, interpreter of Professor Vasile Adamescu, member on the Board of the Sense International Romania

Annual Review 2018 – With love, for Mr. Vasile Adamescu…

We dedicate this review to Mister Vasile Adamescu, member on the Sense International Romania Board of Directors. In 2018, we lost a true landmark.

The story of his life has impressed and still impresses upon many people, because Mr. Vasile Adamescu represents a model for each and every one of us, a very special man, a kind and warm soul whom we miss very much. At a very young age, he completely lost his sight and his hearing, but this did not stop him from fighting and winning.

In 2018, Mr. Vasile Adamescu received from Sense International Romania the title of Promoter of the Rights of People with Deafblindness in Romania. It was our way to bring homage to the artist, the sculptor, the writer, the teacher, our colleague and friend, Vasile Adamescu.

e-Sense–using digital technology to revolutionise the education of children with deafblindness

Alone We Can Do So Little. Together We Can Do So Much. Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Fundația Orange selected the project e-Sense – using digital technology to revolutionise the education of children with deafblindness to receive funding through the programme The world through colour and Sound, 2019 edition.

Children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments face major difficulties in communication, access to information, orientation and mobility. For this reason, teaching these children is a very specific type of education, which requires specialised techniques, knowledge and skills. Digital technology is more and more widespread in the education system and in our everyday life, but not when it comes to children with deafblindness. In order for them to be able to access high quality education and not be “left behind”, they need educational software adapted to the specific needs that come with having both visual and hearing impairments.

Partners

Sense International Romania, the only organisation in the country specialised in the field of deafblindness, joins forces with Code for Romania, a community of young and enthusiastic professionals developing IT solutions to solve the problems of the society, as well as with three schools which provide educational services for children and young people with deafblindness: Special Technological Highschool “Vasile Pavelcu” Iasi, School Centre for Inclusive Education ”Cristal” Oradea and School Centre for Inclusive Education „Constantin Pufan” Timişoara, in order to develop, test and approve e-Sense – an accessible, free, open source educational software package for over 335 children with deafblindness in Romania, for their parents and teachers.In 2008, as an initiative of Sense International Romania, the National Curriculum for the Education of children with Deafblindness was developed and approved by the Ministry of Education. Now, more than a decade later, this curriculum will step into the 21st century and will be translated into digital technology language, all foe the benefit of children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments.

Thus, in 2020-2021, specialists in the field of deafblindness and IT speicalists will work together and find the best digital solutions for important curriculum areas such as language and communication, mathematics and science, arts, human beings and society to take the shape of educational software. Children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments, their parents and teachers from the three partner schools, will test and asees e-Sense throughout the project life, using equipment purchased through this project, to make sure that the solution developed is useful, real and necessary.

The final version of e-Sense will be submitted for certification from the Ministry of National Education, so that it becomes a tool that can be used by all schools in Romania providing education for children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments, but also at home, by children and their families.

Implementation period: January 2020 – December 2021

Value of the project: 414.804 lei

TYPOGRAPHERS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW

It is not by chance that the same year when Sense International Romania turns 18 years of activity, the first generation of future typographers graduates school. Today, mAY 30, we have attended with pride and joy to the Graduation fesitivities of the 12th grade, typography class, at the Special Professional School for Children with Hearing Impairments St. Mary Bucharest.

Here, just like at the Technological Highschool gheorghe Atanasiu in Timișoara, the first 17 young graduates finish professional school – 10 in Bucharest and 7 in Timișoara. Of these, 7 are already employed in the field of typography, 5 in Bucharest and 2 in Timișoara.

We are very happy with the succes of these schools and we wish the young graduates lost of success in life and many accomplishments!

Starting with 2012, Sense International Romania, alongside Orange Foundation and Medicor Foundation, provided financial, material and technical support for the development of 8 vocational centres in Arad, Bucharest, Buzău, Craiova, Focșani, Galați, Iași and Timișoara, within partner special schools. Over 240 children and young people with deafblindness and sensory impairments have studied in these centres fields such as typography, marzipan molding and horticulture.