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The first initiation course in the field of deafblindness for sign language interpreters

People with deafblindness in Romania represent a vulnerable, marginalized, isolated group, affected by inequalities and social exclusion. The combination of the two disabilities, sight and hearing, raises serious barriers to accessing services, given the major difficulties in communication, orientation and mobility, in accessing information, to which is added the lack of trained interpreters in the field.

In this context, Sense International Romania  organized, between September 4 and October 16, 2023, the first Deafblindness Initiation Course for Romanian Sign Language Interpreters, attended by 17 experienced interpreters from Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Craiova, Slatina, Bârlad and Brașov.

The course totaled 44 hours of theoretical and practical training and had both an online component, on the organization's e-learning platform, www.cursuri.surdocecitate.ro, and a face-to-face component.

Thus, during four online sessions, the participants learned about the specifics of deafblindness, which are the main types and causes, basic notions regarding the anatomy and physiology of the senses, as well as legislative elements regarding deafblindness. A special moment in the course was the presence of Viorel Micu, interpreter of Professor Vasile Adamescu, and the guests from Sense International India and Sense UK, who shared their experience regarding the interpreter for people with deafblindness.

Only together can we bring "light" into the lives of people with deafblindness

In the face-to-face workshop, organized in Predeal between September 14-17, the participants practiced the communication methods and adaptations necessary for people with deafblindness, as well as aspects of orientation and mobility, using the red-white cane, symbol of deafblindness worldwide. Through role-playing and creative exercises, they experienced some of the challenges faced in everyday life by visually and hearing-impaired people, guided by the course trainer, university assistant dr. Ioana Tufar.

"Emotion was the word that ran through this formation like a red thread. The position of interpreter for people with deafblindness is extremely demanding for an interpreter in Romanian sign language. So little is known about deafblindness, only together we can change mentalities, we can bring "light" into the lives of people with deafblindness!" - Angela Mate, special education teacher and Romanian sign language interpreter

 

This was the first edition of the initiation course in deafblindness for Romanian sign language interpreters, but Sense International Romania intends to organize other editions.

"We created this first course dedicated to interpreters in Romanian sign language to respond to a real need for training and information regarding the specifics of deafblindness as a distinct and very complex disability. We are glad that the participants received the course with so much enthusiasm and we want to organize new editions to have as many interpreters specialized in the field of deafblindness as possible. There is still a lot to do, we will also continue the efforts to harmonize the legislation on deafblindness, but now we have dedicated interpreters with us, friends of deafblind people in Romania" - Etelka Czondi, director of Sense International Romania.

The Voice of people with Deafblindness in Romania is implemented by the Foundation Sense International Romania in partnership with Sense International UK, with the financial support of Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants Grants 2014 -2021. The content of this materiale does not necessarily reflect the official position of the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021; for more information visit www.eeagrants.org. More details about Active Citizens Fund Romania are available at www.activecitizensfund.ro.

About Active Citizens Fund Romania

The Active Citizens Fund Romania programme is funded through the EEA Grants 2014-2021. The overall objective of the Grants is to reduce economic and social disparities, and to strengthen bilateral relations between 15 beneficiary countries and the Donor States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The programme is administered by a consortium composed of Civil Society Development Foundation, Romanian Environmental Partnership Foundation, Resource Center for Roma Communities, PACT Foundation and Frivillighet Norge, acting as Fund Operator designated by FMO – Financial Mechanism Office of the EEA and Norway Grants. The objectives of the Active Citizens Fund Romania are to strengthen civil society and active citizenship and to empower vulnerable groups. With a total allocation of 46,000,000 euro, the programme pursues a long-term development of the civil society sector sustainability and capacity, stepping up its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights, while strengthening bilateral relations with organizations from the Donor States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. For more information about the Active Citizens Fund in Romania, please go to www.activecitizensfund.ro. For more information about the EEA and Norway Grants, go to www.eeagrants.org.

e-Sense workshop

Sense International Romania, Code for Romaniaand Orange Foundation formally launched yesterday, November 9th, during an online workshop, the education software e-Sense, a digital tool free of charge that can be used in therapeutic and educational interventions for children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments.

The project ”e-Sense” is funded by Orange Foundation through the project The World through Colour and Sound, the largest fund dedicated to people with visual/hearing impairments.

„We know how difficult it is to create digital solutions, especially when we talk about such complex needs as in the case of people with both hearing and visual impairments. e-Sense aims to create an educational online space with multiple functions, very useful in the teacher-child and parent-child relationship because, ultimately, education continues at home as well.” Daniela Mita, Programmes Manager, Orange Foundation Romania

”e-Sense” has two components: the first component is an app of visual, hearing and cognitive stimulation, organised in four types of activities in agreement with the National Curriculum for the Education of Children with Deafblindness. Thus, ”e-Sense” brings into the digital technology sphere exercises meant to support children to develop their perceptive skills to detect sensory stimuli and become aware of their presence, develop their attention to sensory stimuli, their ability to localise, recognise and discriminate stimuli.

For us, of all our 46 live projects we currenttly have at Code for Romania, e-Sense has been by far the most challenging, given the target group that we have not worked with before. It was very interesting to work alongside specialists in education. For the first time, we worked with an expert to make e-Sense a best practive model from the point of view of accesibility”. Olivia Vereha, co-founder and VP product Code for Romania

The second component is the web platform www.esense.ro, which allows schools, teachers and parents to monitor pupils’ progress. After registering onto the platform, the parent or the teacher can create the child’s profile and use the software in a rhythm adapted to the child’s functional level, selecting the appropriate type of exercise and adjusting the visual elements, the specific content and level of difficulty.

”Why is e-Sense valuable? Because it has been created by special education teachers experienced in working with children with disabilities, because of the pleasant design and colours, the nice audio feedback. It is user friendly and relevant in connection with the curriculum for the education of children with deafblindness, multisensry impairments, visual and other types of disabilities.” Mihaela Adriana Moldovan, PhD, special education teacher at School Center for Inclusive Education "Cristal" Oradea

Education specialists from the five partner schools, The Professional Special School for Children with Hearing Impairments "Sfanta Maria" Bucharest, Special Technological Highschool "Vasile Pavelcu" Iasi, School Center for Inclusive Education "Cristal" Oradea, School Center for Inclusive Education Nr. 2 Sibiu and School Center for Inclusive Education "Constantin Pufan" Timisoara presented the exercises ad talked about their experience in developing this digital instrument that will support students in accessing high quality education, adapted to the specific needs given by the combination of hearing and visual impairments.

”e-Sense: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful online experience for children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments!” Etelka Czondi, Director Sense International Romania

Despre Sense Internațional România

Sense Internațional România este o organizație românească înființată în 2001 cu scopul de a îmbunătăți viața persoanelor cu surdocecitate și deficiențe senzoriale multiple din țara noastră. SIR este singura organizație din România care militează activ pentru drepturile persoanelor cu surdocecitate. Prin programe la nivel naţional ce promovează intervenția timpurie la nou-născutul cu deficiențe senzoriale, educația copiilor cu surdocecitate/DSM și oferirea de servicii vocaționale, SIR reușește cu succes să aducă o schimbare în bine în viața a sute de persoane cu acest tip de dizabilitate. Domeniul nostru de interes ca organizație este reprezentat de patru direcții strategice majore: promovarea drepturilor persoanelor cu surdocecitate, sănătate, educație și incluziune socială. www.surdocecitate.ro

Despre Code for Romania

Code for Romania este a doua cea mai mare organizație din domeniul tehnologiei civice din lume. Asociația dezvoltă soluții software pro-bono, în sistem open-source, pentru rezolvarea unor probleme sociale, cu ajutorul unei comunități de peste 1800 de voluntari din România și Diaspora. Doar în 2020, soluțiile din ecosistemul Covid-19 (stirioficiale.ro, rohelp.ro, datelazi.ro etc) și cele din ecosistemul de vot (Vot Diaspora, Rezultate Vot etc.) au fost utilizate de peste 8 milioane de  de români. www.code4.ro

Despre Fundația Orange

Fundația Orange este o organizaţie non-profit care se implică în viaţa comunității, prin realizarea de proiecte de filantropie, menite să aducă schimbări pozitive în viaţa persoanelor dezavantajate. În cei 10 ani de activitate, Fundația Orange a investit peste 6 milioane de euro în 5 programe ce susțin dezvoltarea comunităților vulnerabile și integrarea persoanelor defavorizate, prin promovarea și implementarea tehnologiei și a metodelor digitale în proiecte de educație, cultură și incluziune socială. . Pentru detalii, vizitați www.fundatiaorange.ro.

 

Voice of people with deafblindness

 PRESS RELEASE

Bucharest, June 27th, 2022

 The Foundation Sense International Romania has launched today the project The Voice of People with Deafblindness in Romania. June 27th is The International Day of People with Deafblindness, celebrated worldwide to draw attention upon the rights of people with deafblindness.

People with deafblindness  in Romania represent an extremely vulnerable group, who are marginalized, isolated, and suffer from inequalities and social exclusion. The combination of the two impairments, visual and hearing, raises barriers in accessing services of all kinds, given the major difficulties in communication, orientation and mobility, in accessing information, as well as the lack of interpreters specialised in deafblindness.

According to international estimates from 2018, the prevalence of deafblindness is 0.2-2% of the population, meaning between 40,000 – 400,000 people affected in Romania.

Our project, The Voice of People with Deafblindness in Romania, aims to lay the groundwork and increase the capacity of a group of people with deafblindness to become a voice capable of fighting for their rights, through meetings meant to empower them and provide them with the tools for self-representation, aiming at establishing a representative association of people with deafblindness.

To ensure their access to the services they need, the project will train a group of sign language interpreters to specialise in deafblindness, a field that interpreters currently have little knowledge of. In parallel, the project will increase the level of awareness, though national campaigns dedicated to improved knowledge and understanding of deafblindness.

Sense International Romania will support people with deafblindness cu have a voice, to be seen and heard, gaining the capacity to advocate for the social inclusion of the entire group of people with deafblindness in Romania.

Project implemented by Sense International Romania in partnership with Sense International UK with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants 2014-2021.

 About Sense Internațional România

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 bring 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.

www.surdocecitate.ro/en/

About Active Citizens Fund Romania

The Active Citizens Fund Romania programme is funded through the EEA Grants 2014-2021. The overall objective of the Grants is to reduce economic and social disparities, and to strengthen bilateral relations between 15 beneficiary countries and the Donor States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The programme is administered by a consortium composed of Civil Society Development Foundation, Romanian Environmental Partnership Foundation, Resource Center for Roma Communities, PACT Foundation and Frivillighet Norge, acting as Fund Operator designated by FMO – Financial Mechanism Office of the EEA and Norway Grants. The objectives of the Active Citizens Fund Romania are to strengthen civil society and active citizenship and to empower vulnerable groups. With a total allocation of 46,000,000 euro, the programme pursues a long-term development of the civil society sector sustainability and capacity, stepping up its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights, while strengthening bilateral relations with organizations from the Donor States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. For more information about the Active Citizens Fund in Romania, please go to www.activecitizensfund.ro. For more information about the EEA and Norway Grants, go to www.eeagrants.org.

 

Vasile Adamescu – a life dedicated to the rights of people with deafblindness

On December 6th 2018, Professor Vasile Adamescu passed away. It is an extremely sad moment for all those who knew him, as well as for those who know how special he was. Despite lacking both vision and hearing, Vasile Adamescu Graduated university, became a teacher for children with deafblindness, wrote books, knew five foreign languages, he was a sculptor and fought to promote the rights of people with deafblindness. Since 2015, he was a member on the Board of Sense International Romania.

It is difficult to describe in words the feelings we have, which is why we invite you to read about his life in Vasile Adamescu’s own words:

I was born on September 5th 1944, in the village Borcea, Ialomita County. I was the second born of my parents, Zamfir and Voica, poor but hardworking peasants. Until the age of 2, my life was normal. Unfortunately, I lost my mother prematurely, due to a simple cold. Not long after that, a tragedy fell upon me> while my family was out working the fields, I was left home in the care of an aunt. I fell asleep outside, on the porch, and a cold autumn rain started, which made me catch a bad cold. As treatments back then were only those traditionally known by my grandmother, she treated me the best way she could. A few months later, I lost the most elementary senses, vision and hearing. My father took me to see doctors, but it was in vain.

Until the age of 11, I lived in darkness and in silence, after which I was taken to the School for the Blin din Cluj. Florica Sandu, a bright teacher, managed the impossible, teaching me how to speak, read and write….

I graduated highschool and then I started University, learning Special Education, which I graduated in 1977. I became a teacher at the same school where I had studied, and I spent 30 years as a teacher there. Between 1983-1986, I studied sculpture at the Popular School of Arts. I loved sculpture since childhood. I learned new methods of working in clay, making vehicles, animals and buildings.

In 2010, I received the Honorary Citizen of Cluj. One year later, a received the title The Person with Disabilities of Year 2011. Since 2015, I became a member on the Board of Directors of Sense International Romania. In 2018, I received the title Promoter of the Rights of People with Deafblindness in Romania.

Recently, after many years of hard work, I managed to publish Volumes 1 and 2 of my autobiography, names „Confronting Life”.

The funeral will take place on Saturday, December 8th 2018, at 11.45, in Floresti, Cluj Conty. All those who wish to pay homage, are welcomed.

Close your eyes, cover your ears, open your soul!

For December 3, The International Day of People with Disabilities, the Association Junior Sport in partnership with the Foundation Sense International Romania and the producer of sports equipment ANCADA, together with great champions of Romanian sports, launched the campaign BORN FOR SPORTS, a campaign dedicated to children with deafblindness.

Born for sports

Valeria van Groningen Răcilă – Olympic champion in rowing, Ecaterina Oancia – multiple Olympic and world champion in rowing, Silvia Stroescu – Olympic champion in artistic gymnastics, Alina Alexandra Dumitru – Olympic and European Judo champion, Irina Deleanu – world bronze medalist in rhythmic gymnastics and president of the Romanian Federation of Rhythmic Gymnastics, Dorina Gabriela Mihai – world fencing champion, Monica Iagăr – athlete, European high jump champion, Traian Rus – multiple world and European Kempo champion, Alin Romulus Păcurar – absolute Balkan champion, multiple European medalist in free fighting and Honored Master of Sports, Hajnal Iuliu – a legend of Romanian football, Gruia Docan – Holder of 4 dan Kyokushin Karate and president of the Romanian Federation of Kyokushin, Nicu Dobre – President of the Romanian Oina Federation, Ștefan Sandulache – former basketball player, currently Director of Bucharest Department for Sports and Youth, Mircea Barna – former captain of the national basketball team and owner of ANCADA sports equipment producer, Theo Matican – multiple medalist in national and international swimming, skiing and cycling competitions for people with disabilities, the young sports champions Nicolas Luca Lupu – fencing golden medalist, Miriam Ciolacu – football player and athlete with numerous trophies and medals, Monica Elena Duca – double world champion in acrobatic dancing, Andrei Victor Păcurar – multiple gold medalist in free fighting, Andrei Sandulache – basketball player, Alina Alexoi – National Romanian Television TV reporter and Andrei Pralea – Business Manager at ANCADA, launched the sporting equipment collection called BORN FOR SPORTS.

Through a series of suggestive photos, as well as a video, these 22 participants to the campaign sent a heartwarming message supporting the cause of children with deafblindness:

„I, born for sports, take into account the fact that beyond the sports community that I am part of, there are people with deafblindness, who can neither see nor hear about my performance. Yet, through my gesture, I bring light and sound into their life. Close your eyes, cover your ears, open your soul!“

The sporting equipment producer ANACADA will donate 30% of the sporting equipment sales from the collection BORN FOR SPORTS to these children! We thank the professional photographers for their probono support: Florian Gîndilă (Bucharest) and Iosif Vajnar (Pixel Prosport Târgu Mureș).

But… what is deafblindess?
Deafblindness is a severe multisensory impairment, most times associated with other types of disability, generating major difficulties in communication, access to information, orientation and mobility.
Among world well-known people with deafblindness, we can mention Francisco Goya – the famous Spanish painter who became deaf and blind in his last years of life, Helen Keller – a famous American writer, the first person with deafblindness who graduated college and our own Vasile Adamescu – a Romanian teacher and artist, who lost both his vision and hearing when he was a child, and now, he is the biggest promoter of the rights of people with deafblindness in Romania.
The Foundation Sense International Romania is the only organisation in our country working for the benefit of children with deafblindness, since 2001. Along the years, this organisation supported over 500 children through high quality education services, initiated the early intervention programme for babies born with sensory impairments and now is mainly focusing on young people with deafblindness, providing them with the opportunity to lean an independent life through the vocational programme.

Remember Helen Keller! – III

Winners of the SENSES Photo Competition

June – a month dedicated to people with deafblindness all over the world

In June 1-22, Sense International (Romania) organized the Photo Competition SENSES. The theme of the contest was a quote which belongs to Helen Keller – “The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen, not even touched. They must be felt from the heart” – to mark what the entire world celebrates in the month of June – The International Helen Keller Week.

The competition was held on the organization Facebook page – www.facebook.com/SenseInternationalRomania and brought together 95 photographs sent by 38 professional and amateur photographers from all over the country. The Jury consisting of professional photographers and representatives of the the organizer Sense International (Romania) and the official sponsor – EuroGsm – selected the top three most relevant photos for the theme.

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Remember Helen Keller! – II

June – a month dedicated to people with deafblindness all over the world

“The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen, not even touched. They must be felt from the heart”. These words belong to Helen Keller, the best known person with deafblindness in the whole world. Every year, in June, the entire world celebrates the International Deafblind Awareness Week.

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Remember Helen Keller! – I

June – a month dedicated to people with deafblindness around the world

“The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen, not even touched. They must be felt from the heart”. These words belong to Helen Keller, the best known person with deafblindness in the whole world. Every year, in June, the entire world celebrates the International Deafblind Awareness Week. In our country, Sense International (Romania) has organised various activities to mark this international celebration.

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SENSE FOR LIFE

Winning project in the “World Through Colour and Sound” 2014 competition of Orange Foundation

Sense for Life is a Sense International (Romania) – SI(R) – project which aims to improve the life of children and young people with deafblindness and multisensory impairments (MSI), by developing vocational services for them. Through this project, two vocational centres will be established (two mini-typographies) in Arad and Timișoara, where young people with deafblindness/MSI will learn a trade that will increase their chances to live an independent life.

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