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How was the conference?


With these messages, with plenty of smiles and ideas for the future, we concluded the National Conference The Voice of People with Deafblindness from Romania, which took place on March 15-16, 2024, in Bucharest.

It is impossible for us to fully convey the atmosphere filled with warmth, empathy, and joy of these days, but we will try to capture at least a part of what was discussed together, so we invite you to read the lines below.

Day 1 – Reflecting Back

At the opening of the first day of the conference, we were delighted to have the presence of distinguished guests: Mr. Romi Mihăescu, President of the National Authority for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Dolores Maria Neagoe, representative of the Norwegian Embassy in Romania, Ms. Andreea Drăgan and Ms. Iulia Vizi, both representatives of the Foundation for Civil Society Development and the Active Citizens Fund Romania program.

The 68 participants, including 31 people with deafblindness, 15 parents and caregivers, and 12 Romanian Sign Language interpreters, rediscovered the main elements of the project The Voice of People with Deafblindness from Romania, a project carried out over two years (April 2022 - March 2024).

Thus, discussions revolved around the group of 45 people with deafblindness involved in project activities over the past 2 years, activities through which they have come to better know themselves and advocate for their own rights, to have a voice. There was talk about the Introductory Course in Deafblindness for the 17 Romanian Sign Language interpreters, addressing topics related to communication with people with deafblindness, and about promoting the red-and-white cane as a distinctive element drawing attention to the fact that the user is a person with deafblindness.

Additionally, we recalled the two awareness campaigns about the specific aspects of deafblindness, involving over 1.000 children and young people with deafblindness and sensory disabilities from 22 partner schools, along with over 400 teachers and parents.

In the second part of the day, we all visited the Palace of Parliament and extend our heartfelt thanks to our guide, Ms. Irina Pandelas, an Expert at the Center for Organization and Event Promotion within the Romanian Senate.

Day 2 – Looking Forward

On the second day of the conference, the three present groups: the group of young people with deafblindness, the group of parents, and the group of interpreters, engaged in in-depth discussions regarding the future steps needed to foster growth, development, and problem-solving within the deafblind community.

Moreover, participants had the opportunity to learn more about Professor Vasile Adamescu (1944-2018), a person with deafblindness who consistently advocated for the rights of deafblind people in Romania.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the guest facilitators who guided the groups in identifying challenges and solutions: Ramona Antonie, psychologist psychotherapist, specializing in couple, family, child autonomy; Assistant Professor Dr. Ioana Tufar, Romanian Sign Language interpreter and national trainer in the field of deafblindness; Steluța Tudose and Professor Viorel Micu, members of the Board of Directors of Sense International Romania Foundation. Additionally, we thank all the interpreters who facilitated communication between participants, with special thanks to Ms. Monica Cătuțoiu, Lena Dermengiu, and Elena Demeter.

We were delighted to have Mr. Romi Mihăescu, President of the National Authority for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with us again at the end of the conference. He brought forth a concrete set of proposals for addressing the challenges faced by the deafblind community in Romania.

The conference concluded with a festive evening where, while enjoying a delicious cake, we all sang Happy Birthday to the new association of deafblind people in Romania, an association born from this project. The event marked the end of the "Voice of People with Deafblindness from Romania" project but also the beginning of a new chapter.

We thank all those present for their involvement, warmth, desire for change, and perseverance!

"The Voice of People with Deafblindness from Romania" is a project carried out by Sense International Romania Foundation in partnership with Sense International, with financial support from the Active Citizens Fund - Romania, a program financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway through the EEA Grants 2014-2021. The content of this material does not necessarily represent the official position of the EEA and Norwegian Grants 2014-2021; for more information, visit www.eeagrants.org

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