Number 56 • January 2016

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Meet Hedda de Roo

A young woman with deafblindness who graduated cum laude

Awareness campaign

Hedda is participating in a Kentalis campaign to create increased awareness in society. The media is used to reach people who are not likely to meet deafblind people. There still are plenty of preconceived ideas about deafblindness, but things are improving slowly but surely. Hedda has been telling people about deafblindness for years now, and other deafblind people are also active in the Netherlands. There have been numerous campaigns, but there still is plenty of ground to cover. One achievement would if people who use a white walking stick (cane) were considered as common in society as people using a wheeled walker.

Scientific research

Hedda currently works as a psychologist in specialist healthcare to patients without sensory impairment. She hopes to be able to work with people with deafblindness in the future, and would like to carry out psychological research into Usher syndrome. During her training, she set up a foundation that encourages scientific research into deafblindness, with the objective to increase quality of life for deafblind people. As you can read, Hedda is pretty busy, but she still finds time for her fiancé with whom she intends to share her future and start a family. Living with deafblindness is not always easy and involves tough and difficult times and situations, but this does not keep Hedda from pursuing her dreams. Who knows what the future holds?


Synopsis of 16th European Rehabilitation and Cultural Week for the Deafblind

Moscow, August 03–09, 2015

The 16th European Rehabilitation and Cultural Week for the Deafblind (ERCW-2015) was one of the most important events for the Deaf-Blind Support Foundation1 in 2015. It took place in Moscow and the Moscow Region on August 3–9th. It was the first time in history Russia hosted such a prominent international gathering for people with combined hearing and sight impairment. Launched in 1997, the ERCW is an annual event. The participants had a unique opportunity to travel to Russia and get to know its history and traditions, from its early days to the present.

The ERCW 2015 attracted more than 200 deafblind attendees from twelve countries including Belgium, the UK, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Kazakhstan and Russia. The opening ceremony was hosted at a country club. The Foundation’s President Dmitry Polikanov opened the event with a welcoming address and awarded the winners of a literary contest for the deafblind. Prizes included laptop computers, tablets and smartphones.

Many participants managed to make new friends as early as day one in spite of the language barriers. All of the activities of the European Rehabilitation and Cultural Week offered deafblind interpretation as well as regular interpretation.

“I learned about the ERCW from the Helen Keller Club, a Belgian organization for deafblind people. I had always wanted to visit Moscow, and the Week’s tightly packed program made it all even more exciting. We’ll get to visit local facilities for the deafblind, as well as tour Russia’s landmarks,” says Tina, a deafblind delegate from Belgium.

On Day two of the European Rehabilitation and Culture Week, the visiting participants from twelve nations took a boat trip along the Moskva River, toured Red Square and Alexander Garden. The day culminated in a theatrical performance of The Touchables2 at the Meyerhold Center3. This performance starring deafblind as well as regular actors was a joint project of the Theater of Nations and the Deaf-Blind Support or Con-nection Foundation.

On day three, ERCW participants visited Sergiyev Posad4, one of the Moscow Region’s most beautiful cities. They had a tour of the Holy Trinity–St. Sergius Monastery5, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and got a glimpse of ancient Russia at the World of the Russian Village museum6. The day closed with a visit to the Sergiyev Posad Deafblind Orphanage, a beautifully located suburban facility that accommodates and educates over 200 children and teenagers with combined hearing and sight impairment.

On Thursday, August 6th, the participants made a trip to the Military Technical Museum in Chernogolovka7 and the Deafblind House in Puchkovo, which offers comprehensive psychological, social and spiritual rehabilitation to deafblind people from all over Russia.

Friday featured a tour of the Babayevsky Chocolate Factory museum8, home to the renowned Russian confectionery brand, where visitors were given an opportunity to make chocolate sweets with their own hands. This activity proved highly popular with deafblind participants, encouraging them to employ all of their available senses: feeling warm cocoa paste with their hands, smelling the various chocolate aromas, tasting the various fillings.

On Saturday, the participants traveled to the city of Zaraysk9 (Moscow Region) and toured its main landmark, the Zaraysk Kremlin – the smallest Kremlin fortress in Russia which is nearly 800 years old. Their visit fell on the same day with a historical reenactment festival, which drew hundreds of living history enthusiasts from all over Russia, and gave ERCW participants a chance to try themselves at ancient crafts such as blacksmithing, pottery or leatherworking, set up in recreated medieval environment, amongst costumed re-enactors.

Saturday night also featured a gala dinner for ERCW participants. All of the deafblind attendees were coming away with great memories of this year’s European Rehabilitation and Culture Week.

“This was a very impressive week,” says Geir Jensen, President of the World Federation of the Deafblind10. “We saw a lot of interesting things in Moscow, and also got to know the Moscow Region. We had many surprises, and the greatest one was how superbly ancient churches have been restored, as well as the Kremlin and Red Square. I also enjoyed the Russian cuisine. We have learned a lot here in Russia. When I go back to Norway, I will tell my colleagues about all the things people do in Russia, and I’m happy to say they do it all very well.”

The Deaf-Blind Support or Con-nection Foundation also used this opportunity to test the accessibility of the museums and city infrastructure for people with dual sensory impairment. The observations and recommendations were discussed in September at the specially organized seminar comprising museum workers from nearly 40 regions of Russia. The ERCW-2015 experience will be considered when holding further events for the global deafblind community in Russia.
Alex Overchuk

Russian Deafblind Support Foundation









8 › Where › Visit


10 WFDB is a DbI partner organization.

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