"My name is Crina, I am 39 years old and I am from Cluj, a city in Western Romania". Crina smiles and shows us the sign she has chosen for her name: her freckles.
Crina communicates only through signs, she was born deaf and wears glasses. She grew up in a united family, with both parents being deaf, brothers and sisters who can hear and another sister like her, with deafblindness.
For a long time, she didn’t consider herself a person with deafblindness, only deaf. She learned the secrets of tailoring in highschool, then worked in a tailor shop for 9 years. After that, she took on another job in a supermarket, where she arranged merchandise on shelves, all experiences from which she learned a lot.
Her mother, Elena, told her about deafblindness for the first time.
“In 2006-2007, my mother went to Finland, where she had a friend. She attended activities with a group of people with deafblindness. She liked it there and discovered new things. When she returned home to Romania, she wanted to find out more about deafblindness and learned about the Sense International Romania. She was impressed", Crina recalls.
Her mother became a volunteer for SIR, getting involved in many activities and representing the parents of children with deafblindness. A curious nature, Crina accompanied her to meetings, met new people, and gained a better understanding of what deafblindness meant.
"That's how I discovered that I am also a person with deafblindness, and that's ok," says Crina smiling.
Her mother taught her sign language, and this way they were able to communicate very well.
"She was very interested in being close to people. We used to communicate both hand on hand and through signs. Even though she didn’t see well, she always said it was possible. I felt a very important connection with her through communication. Even when it was dark, we could communicate”, adds the young woman.
From her mother, she inherited a passion for communication, as well as gentleness and patience, which she now applies in her activities with young people and children with deafblindness in SIR's projects.
In the spring of 2022, Crina accepted the opportunity to join the foundation's team and continue her mother's work, who is no longer with us. "It was wonderful to meet new people, to feel connected, to feel love. I accepted to work at SIR not necessarily for myself but for those around me", says Crina.
She now coordinates the group of young people with deafblindness, together with another colleague who is also deafblind. She keeps in touch with the members of the group, facilitates the online meetings and explains through signs for those who don’t communicate verbally.
She also attended several trips with the group of young people with deafblindness. Initially, she felt uncomfortable speaking in front of them, but now she likes to share her experiences with the others.
"It’s good to not hide but to show what it means to be a person with deafblindness, what one can do, what talents we have, the fact that we are equal to other people, that we can do various activities. I hope the foundation will develop in the future", says Crina.
During activities with the young people with deafblindness in the group, she noticed that some individuals understand more easily, while for others it’s more difficult. In time she learned to adapt to each individual.
"If someone is new, I tell them that deafblindness is a hearing and vision impairment: poor vision, poor hearing. Some are deaf, wear hearing aids, wear glasses; there are several categories of deafblindness, I give them examples. Some people don't accept it; they only feel deaf, and you can't force them. I have patience and explain," summarizes Crina the way she talks about deafblindness.
Among all the activities she has participated in, she particularly enjoys face-to-face meetings, where people communicate and smile more.
"They inspire each other with light, trust their friends, and influence each other. In light, there must also be understanding and gentleness", says Crina, recalling the gentleness she learned from her mother, who still guides her.
For the future, she desires more activities and better communication.
As a person with deafblindness, Crina feels she can do whatever she wants. She enjoys traveling, discovering new cultures, and trying food from different cuisines. She can travel by train or airplane, and does her research before embarking on a new adventure: she searches for the itinerary on her phone, gathers information about the hotel where she will stay, reads comments and reviews from other travelers. This summer, she will go on a trip to Greece with her father and younger sister, together with a large group of deaf people.
In the future, she dreams of more distant destinations, such as Africa or Asia, but until then, she believes there are still things to be done within the group of young people with deafblindness.
"I want to continue working, to develop projects as part of the team. I don't want to think that it's enough as it is, NO! We go all the way... even though I don't know where this end is!"
Between March 22nd and March 24th, 2022, Sense International Romania, in partnership with The University of Bucharest, The Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department of Special Psychopedagogy, The Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, The Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department of Special Psychopedagogy, and The “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași, The Faculty of Psychology and Science, Department of Educational Sciences, organized The National Conference Education of Children with Deafblindness: Together Again!
The event brought together over 100 participants, special education and mass education teachers working with children with deafblindness/multisensory impairments, psychoeducational teachers, students, psychologists, social workers and other specialists. We spent together three intense days consisting in 12 hours of live presentations and stories full of emotion and hope.
20 guests addressed issues such as disability and resilience in times of war, digital educational resources for children with deafblindness, early intervention models, shared good practices and celebrated important achievements.
“For me, this conference was an opportunity to share my professional activity and celebrate my achievements in this field. Thank you, Sense International Romania, for giving us the chance to share our experiences and to enjoy many examples of good practice from other dedicated specialists involved in the education of children with deafblindness”, Gyöngyike Lakatos, special education teacher at Cristal School Center for Inclusive Education, Oradea
“It was a great opportunity to find out our colleagues’ opinions, interests, initiatives and achievements in their daily work”, Mihaela Adriana Moldovan, dr., psychopedagogy teacher, Cristal School Center for Inclusive Education, Oradea
The second online conference organized by Sense International Romania since the beginning of the pandemic used the advantages of the online environment to bring together participants from all over the country and even from the Republic of Moldova, a vibrant community of specialists who connected to the event „with their soul”.
“We have to be grateful to the pandemic because it forced us to find ways to be together from a distance. Such a conference with specialized content definitely has more advantages than disadvantages online: greater impact through access to a larger audience, distinguished guests, very interesting and useful presentations and materials, and, not to mention, lower costs. Thank you, Sense International Romania, because even now, 20 years after the first course I attended, I am still learning with you!”- Filimon Mihaiela, special education teacher, „Saint Vasile” School Center for Inclusive Education, Craiova
“I was really content to attend an event where I felt that people connected with their soul. The information was simply absorbed by the participants! Clearly, this conference must become a tradition!”- Viorel Micu, special education teacher, High School for the Blind, Cluj-Napoca
Both the speakers and the attendees enjoyed seeing their colleagues again, sharing ideas, and meeting new people even though they were not physically together.
“A long-awaited and highly desired conference! I am so happy for the opportunity to see my collegues spread around the country after this pause. I am extremely glad to see that the two years of the pandemic have taught us a lot: we have adapted and readjusted to all challenges and we have learned new things. I look forward to the next edition! “- Eva Oprea, special education teacher, Cristal School Center for Inclusive Education, Oradea
“Although physically separated, we felt the emotion of seeing our dear colleagues again, who walked along us on the path of early Intervention. During the conference, I learned how wonderful it is to share your own experience and to listen to the experiences of those around you”- Daniela Anton, educator, “Vasile Pavelcu” Special Technical High School, Iași
“For me, the conference was very valuable. I had the opportunity to share ideas, emotions, good practices and to connect and reconnect with teachers and colleagues across the country”- Teodora Neagu, psychopedagogy teacher, The School Center for Inclusive Education No. 2 Sibiu
All presentations had sign language interpretation, provided by a dedicated and talented team: Ioana Tufar and Mihaela Dascăl.
“It was an honor for me to make accessible through LSR interpretation presentations which were very professional, but also life lessons. Three days full of information, well-explained concepts, an useful marathon! May such experiences continue! ”- Assist. Univ. Dr. Ioana Tufar, sign language interpreter
If you want to read more about the conference, including the abstracts, please visit: https://surdocecitate.ro/conferinta-2022/