Number 44 • June December 2009



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Conference


Congenital deafblindness and communication

The magic of dialogue

Call for papers

February 1, 2010

Papers for free workshops are welcome. They must be about communication and congenital deafblindness, as much as possible in relation with the concept of dialogicality. They can contribute to the development of knowledge in this field by illustrating or questioning the dialogical paradigm and by suggesting or testing relevant methodological approaches.

The submission form is available for download at:

www.nordicwelfare.org/paris2010papers

DbI Communication Network Course

June 22 – 25, 2010

Paris • INS HEA 58/60 Avenue des Landes • 92150 • Suresnes www.nordicwelfare.org/paris2010




Hope for deafblind children in Bangladesh




Biju Mathew reports on the work of Sense International India and the Centre for Disability in Development, Dhaka …

Sadat is a 14 year old boy with total vision and hearing loss from Dhaka city. Having lost his father early in life, he is looked after by his mother and elder sister at home. With no services available for deafblind children in Dhaka, his mother had no option but to keep him at home. There was a ray of hope for Sadat and his family, when Rizwan, a special educator from Research and Educative Action on Disability (READ) began visiting his home to train him.

Today, after almost a year, Sadat has a special relationship with his teacher. He identifies his teacher through touch and recognises his name sign. Rizwan has developed a training plan for Sadat with inputs from his mother and sister. He is being trained in his daily living skills, mobility, communication and undergoes physiotherapy. Sadat has mild learning disability as an associated condition which is hindering his learning process.

Deafblindness is not recognised in Bangladesh and there is no existing infrastructure to address deafblind peoples’ needs and rights. Neither the disability legislation nor a published disability prevalence study makes any reference to deafblindness. Due to this lack of awareness and expertise, deafblind people in Bangladesh have remained invisible with regards to public policy and specialist services, and excluded from the disability movement and society. This exclusion coupled with poverty makes deafblind children some of the most marginalized children in the country.

To address this issue, Sense International in partnership with Sense International (India) and Centre for Disability in Development, Dhaka (CDD), has initiated the project “Developing a sustainable infrastructure for the inclusion of deafblind people in Bangladesh” The aim of this project is to promote an inclusive society where deafblind people and their families have access to the advice, opportunities and support that is necessary to meet their unique needs and to enable them to access their rights.

In the long term we aim to establish a strong and supportive national infrastructure in order to increase services and provide a coherent voice for deafblind people in Bangladesh. Currently there is no provision for deafblind people and their families so this is a unique and vital project. The project is being delivered through local partners who are already working in the field of disability, in 6 districts of Bangladesh, to include Dhaka, Bogra, Munshiganj, Jessore, Gazipur and Norsingdi.

The lead partner CDD has established and managing a National Resource Centre to develop and disseminate information on deafblindness. Technical expertise is transferred from Sense International (India) to partners through a series of training and capacity building workshops and exchange visits. The project is modeled on our hugely successful work in India and sharing of expertise and experience developed over the last 12 years. The aim is to build capacity of local organizations to be best practice models and encouraging local decision making to have control over their work.

Since the initiation of the work early this year, more than 80 deafblind children have been identified and are receiving services from the six partners. These children did not have access to any kind of support from any agency until they were identified under this project. Most of the parents did not have any information about their child’s condition and did not know where to take their children for support. Due to lack of awareness and information on deafblindness, even medical doctors could not give the correct diagnosis and guidance to parents. As a result, families had lost hope of any kind of support for their children who remained isolated. The impact of the work so far has been to kindle hope for these families. For community members, it has been a realisation that deafblind children can be supported and educated. For organisations, it is a completely new challenge for them to take up deafblind work and be part of the first ever deafblind initiative in the whole country. Most of all, for deafblind children, a window to their world has been opened. It is the first time in years that someone has tried to communicate with them, understand their needs and made an effort to reach out to them.

The National Resource Centre (NRC) at Dhaka is providing the much needed support the partners by making available information on deafblindness in local language and co-ordinate training activities for the partners. It also produces the first ever newsletter on deafblind issues in Bangladesh. With support from Sense International (India) the NRC has organized the first national sensitisation workshop on deafblindness in Dhaka and has facilitated exposure and training visits for special educators to India. The Programme Support Unit at Sense International (India) provides on-site and off-site support to the NRC and partners regularly. The NRC is also initiating the first ever network of families of deafblind children in Bangladesh and is engaging with the government for recognition of deafblindness.

A new beginning has been made in Bangladesh, reaffirming our commitment to deafblind people. There are exciting and challenging times ahead and we welcome you to join us.


Biju Mathew


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