We are happy to announce it’s been a busy year for us here at The Anne Sullivan Centre1 in Ireland!
We hosted our 2nd Annual National Deafblind Awareness Day on April 18, 2015 in Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Members of the Deafblind community from all over the country attended this event with their families. In addition to a display on how our Deafblind residents at the Anne Sullivan Centre communicate, we had a several local and national organisations exhibiting at tables surrounding the room such as DeafHear2, the Irish Deaf Society3, Sharing the Journey4, Fighting Blindness5, Child Vision6, and Ash Technologies7. The highlight of the day was our two speakers, Joanne Milne and Orla O’Sullivan. Joanne spoke about how losing her sight after growing up profoundly Deaf affected her but that she was very positive about life after getting fitted with a cochlear implant. She had copies of her newly released book entitled, Breaking the Silence (Coronet, 2015)8 which she signed for those present. Orla O’Sullivan, who is also Deafblind, shared her love of music as a renowned pianist and qualified music teacher. She played a beautiful piece by Beethoven which captivated all attending.
As a follow up to what was learned in last year’s research project, “A Study into Deafblindness in Ireland”9 The Anne Sullivan Centre has been working hard to raise awareness and get recognition for Deafblindness in Ireland. On May 28, 2015, members from the Anne Sullivan Centre along with professionals in the fields of audiology and ophthalmology, as well as Carol Brill, an Irish woman who is Deafblind, went before a joint Oireachtas (Irish Parliament)10 meeting on Health and Children to discuss recognising Deafblindness as distinct disability. The submission was met with much support from the T.D.s (Members of Parliament) that were present. As a result of the meeting, a letter has been sent to our Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, as well as the Minister for Disability, Kathleen Lynch, as a call to action on the submission. We hope this means there will be some changes made as it is extremely important to our Service Users and members of the community who are Deaflbind.
From everyone at the Anne Sullivan Centre, we wish the DbI Community a happy, healthy 2016!
Deirdre Leech, Anne Sullivan Centre, Dublin, Ireland
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.annesullivan.ie
1 www.annesullivan.ie. The Anne Sullivan Centre is a small corporate member of DbI.
8 www.amazon.ca › Books › Biographies & Memoirs › Memoirs
9 Reported in DbI Review, Edition 54, January 2015
News from the Deafblind Unit at the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Jordan
Exploring the world with your hands is hard work. There are so many impressions possible, it is simply amazing. But we know and understand so little about it. Thanks to our deafblind children we can learn little by little how they feel the world and how they understand the things they touch around them. Keeping up with them, their creativity is a full agenda and brings back the memories of some very nice experiences.
After Asma’, the (deaf) deputy head of the deafblind unit, graduated from the Educational Leadership Program at Perkins1 in Boston and returned to the deafblind Unit, weekly training courses for our staff followed. All the teachers working in the deafblind unit have a diploma special education, but during their time of study there wasn’t a single lecture about the education of children who are deafblind. The training courses are unique and the HLID2 is the only place in Jordan and the Middle East that conducts such courses. Starting with some very practical experiences, the teachers get the chance to go deeper and deeper into the very broad field of educating children who are deafblind. Every little thing they feel and understand themselves brings them a tiny step closer to the child they work with. There are very funny moments but also much thinking in order to come to the realization that the responsibility as educators is huge.
Filled with new impressions and ideas from their own training, theme-based teaching was implemented and new activities were developed. Eid alAdha (Islamic Feast of sacrifice) is a very important feast and in order to help the children understand what was going to happen when they got home for the holidays, the theme “Eid alAdha” was introduced. During arts and crafts classes little sheep were made. But really happy were the children the day the deafblind unit made a trip to one of the fenced-off areas where sheep are held, to be sold for the feast. The children loved to pet the sheep and are happy with our own new little goat “Billy”.
Getting close to the end of term, the next theme was Christmas. All the children participated in decorating the deafblind unit.
One afternoon there was a party in the deafblind unit and parents and relatives were invited. They could discuss their children and see what they had done, but they also met and shared with other parents. For some it is good to know that they are not the only parents with a deafblind child. Presents from Father Christmas were a nice touch to end this happy afternoon. Before going home for the Christmas break, we held a big party with everybody. Some of the deaf children practiced a short play with the children of the deafblind unit.
Also some of the older students who are deaf thought of a play, together with two deafblind adults, to teach the audiance some important things about sharing with students who are deafblind.
After much rain and snow, it was good to feel the sun again. With every day it got warmer, hills became greener, flowers started to blossom and to smell. Spring time!, with ever so much to do: Flowers with different textures were collected, seeds planted, plants bought and taken care of. As nice as all that was, the Spring feeing really arrived, when the deafblind unit made a trip outside the HLID. Fields full with flowers were the perfect environment for the children as they could smell and touch everything. Bouqets were made and after returning to the HLID the children brought them to staff members as messengers of spring.
Every year all the children from the HLID go on school trips. Of course the deafblind unit wouldn’t miss it and they had a great day, with nice food, horse riding, visits to the zoo, and a visit to a fun park.
The fact that due to the lack of the two distance senses, our children at the deafblind unit miss things that we are often not aware of, occurred to us right after the long summer break. A couple of our foreign volunteer staff members at the deafblind unit got married during the summer. All the children and staff were happy with the newly married couple, except the children from the deafblind unit. Even though we have had teachers from the unit getting married, we never thought to celebrate it with the children. Weddings are a special and well-celebrated event here in Jordan. It was about time to work on the theme “Wedding”. The children made different things like ties and veils, dressed themselves up like bride and groom, and made games with rings. The highlight was, when the deafblind unit invited the newly married couple to celebrate a Jordanian wedding where the children could touch the bride and groom, give the things they had made themselves as presents and enjoy cake and drinks. It was a very special and wonderful afternoon.
So we hope to keep improving and to continue on the long way for our children to go. There are still many questions and obstacles, daily situations that are hard, but each step will take us forward. Exploring the world with your hands is a beautiful but time-consuming experience, but best done as a team. Then all things become possible.
“Alone we can do so little; but together we can do so much.” –Helen Keller
For more information contact Brother Andrew (email@example.com)
The Holy Land Institute for the Deaf is a non-profit foundation located in Salt, Jordan, north of Amman, that provides educational and rehabilitation services for people with hearing impairment.
HLID is a partner of CBM (Christoffel Blindenmission)
www.cbm.org CBM is a large corporate member of DbI.