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The conference: We turned the pandemic challenge into an opportunity

Bucharest. November 23rd 2020. The Foundation Sense International Romania is organising online The International Conference ”Deafblindness during the Pandemic”, between November 23 – 25, 2020.

After more than half a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world in which we live has changed and is still changing. People with deafblindness - children, adults or elderly - as well as their families, have found themselves facing more marginalisation and neglect, they are more vulnerable and more exposed to isolation than ever, during the crisis.

Deafblindness refers to a situation where a person is confronted with both visual and hearing impairments. It may be about children born this way, young people and adults acquiring it due to disease or accidents, or elderly people who gradually lose their sight and hearing because of old age. Regardless of the cause, we are convinced you agree that deafblindness is a severe disability, causing great challenges in communication, in the way people make friends and live their every day life.

Together with 25 international and national speakers from Great Britain, India, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia and Scotland we want to learn how the pandemic influences the process of communication for people with deafblindness, in what way can technology be of support, what are the challenges but also the opportunities during this time.

We had planned a conference in the field of deafblindness for this autumn. We had planned it at the request of special education teachers working with children and young people with deafblindness, so as to learn from each other and to learn the latest news. But the pandemic came. Obviously, a face to face conference became impossible. We turned the pandemic challenge into an opportunity, by holding an international conference, to answer together to questions like: what is it like not to see or hear very well during the pandemic? How do you learn? How do you communicate? Can technology be of help? What are the opportunities, how about the challenges?” Etelka Czondi, Director Sense International Romania.

An important moment of the conference will be the launch of the platform e-Sense together with Code for Romania and Orange Foundation. Digital technology is increasingly prevalent in the education system and everyday life, but not for children with deafblindness. In order for them to have access to quality education and not to "fall behind", software is needed to adapt to their specific needs given by the combination of visual and hearing impairments.

On the internet page dedicated to the conference, there is more information about this event, including the Abstracts Book with summaries of all presentations and information about the speakers.

We thank the over 200 registered participants: parents, teachers, special education teachers, educators, psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists, doctors, students, other specialists, for their interest. The conference attendance is free of charge. However, any donation received from participants is welcomed and will contribute towards supporting children and young people with deafblindness, as well as towards organising future similar events.

Conference webpage: https://surdocecitate.ro/en/deafblindness-in-pandemic/