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I want to be heard and seen!

I too have a voice! I want to be heard and seen!

With this emotional message and the certainty that we are stronger together, we concluded the fourth workshop organized within the project "The Voice of People with Deafblindness in Romania," which took place in Bușteni from January 11th to 14th.

23 people with deafblindness, along with 11 family members (mothers, a father, and a life partner), discussed the need to establish an association for people with deafblindness in Romania, reviewing the main strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the deafblind community as identified in the previous workshop.

They discussed what this association could do to improve the lives of people with deafblindness and expressed their support and desire to get involved.

Through Sense International Romania, participants received detailed information about the steps necessary to establish an association, from drafting a statute document to choosing the organization's leadership and setting priorities.

Deafblindness on the stage

After the plenary discussions, participants worked in small teams and came up with proposals for the name and logo of the future association: Association of People with Deafblindness in Romania, Deafblindness Romania, and I Want to Be Heard and Seen were just a few of their creative ideas.

Subsequently, participants with varying degrees of deafblindness became directors, scriptwriters, and actors in emotional short plays with the following themes: Accessibility, Specialized Interpreters in the Language of Deafblind People, Awareness Activities for Deafblindness, and Independent Living.

Through realistic scenes, we witnessed some of the situations that a person with deafblindness may face in everyday life, the support she/he needs at work, in a store, or on the street, as well as possible solutions to enjoy an independent life.

Throughout the entire workshop, communication was facilitated by two Romanian Sign Language interpreters, Monica Cătuțoiu and Elena Demeter, who graduated of the introductory course in deafblindness for interpreters organized by Sense International Romania in the fall of 2023.

Orientation and Mobility in Bușteni

The agenda also included moments of orientation and mobility. Participants enjoyed walks in the snowy outdoors and a guided tour of Cantacuzino Castle, a first-time experience for many of them.

The workshop concluded with a sculpting session. Each person molded a clay piece of art, which they then offered to a fellow participant along with a hug, a grateful thought, or a promise of reunion in the spring.

The final conference, in March

The group of people with deafblindness will gather in Bucharest from March 14-17, accompanied by family members, Romanian Sign Language interpreters, and interpreters trained in the specific language of deafblind individuals. They will also be joined by guests representing national authorities at the conference that will mark the conclusion of the project "The Voice of People with Deafblindness in Romania."

The connections made and plans set for a future association of people with deafblindness will, however, continue to develop even after the conclusion of this project.

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.

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