In partnerships with schools, maternities and authorities, four early intervention support centres were established to provide specific therapies for babies and small children born with sensory impairments.
The main accomplishments include:
- 234 children in 4 early intervention support centres
- 581 newborns screened for hearing impairments
- 049 children tested for visual impairments
- 424 parents and family members informed and counselled
- 25 specialists in education, health and social services trained and involved in the project.
- Curriculum for Early Intervention approved by the Romanian legislation
- Research Report on early intervention for children with multisensory impairments, 2007 – 2014, best practice model.
In 2019, early intervention services continue being delivered in all four centres. According to the specialists involved in this programmes, there are currently 90 babies benefitting from therapies in Bucharest, Oradea, Timisoara and Iasi.
Newborn babies and small children with hearing and/or visual impairments benefit from diagnosis, rehabilitation and early intervention, with the support of multidisciplinary teams consisting of medical professionals, special education teachers, psychologists and parents. Services offered in the Early Intervention Support Centres include multisensory stimulation, functional visual training, perceptive-hearing education, speech therapy, physiotherapy, information, support and counselling for parents.
SIR runs the Education programme on the basis of a Partnership Agreement with the Ministry of National Education, with more than 20 schools and universities throughout the country, aiming at ensuring that children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments access high quality education services.
When the project ended, in 2015, the main accomplishments included:
- High quality education for over 500 children with deafblindness in Romania.
- 21 special schools din 11 Romanian towns offer educational services for children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments.
- Over 250 special education teachers trained in deafblindness.
- A team of 10 national trainers in the field of deafblindness.
- Curriculum for the Education of Children with Multisensory Impairments
In 2009, the education project received the ERSTE Award for Social Integration and the Practitioners’ Award.
In 2019, SIR continues to run activities for children with deafblindness from all 21 partner schools. Every year, hundreds of children, parents and teachers attend and organise various activities involving sports, theatre, arts and crafts, hikes and trips in June, for the International Helen Keller celebration and in December, for the International Day of People with Disabilities. There are currently over 350 children with deafblindness educated in classes equipped by SIR over the years, taught by teachers trained by SIR over the years.
Every year, children and young people attend orientation and mobility camps where they acquire knowledge and skills for independent living.
Responding to the concerns coming from parents and teachers regarding the future of children after graduating school, SIR implemented the vocational project, setting up vocational workshops where young people learn a trade that allows them to find employment after graduation and live an independent life.
To date, the main accomplishments include:
- 8 vocational centres (6 typographies, 1 greenhouse and 1 marzipan laboratory)
- 243 young people with deafblindness and multisensory impairments learn a marketable trade
- 63 vocational teachers trained in the field of deafblindness
- 2 partner schools provide state authorised courses in the field of digital typography
In 2019, seven years after the project started, the very first group of 15 young graduates finished their authorised typography courses and are certified typographers. Of these, 7 young people are already employed as typographers.
AWARENESS AND COMMUNICATION
None of the programmes described above would have been possible without the official recognition of deafblindness as a distinct disability. Thus, after numerous lobby and advocacy efforts and activities, deafblindness was recognised as a distinct disability in 2006.
More recently, SIR ran the campaign Close your eyes, cover your ears, open your soul! where 22 famous Romanian sports champions covered their eyes and ears, delivering a message around 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!