Number 56 • January 2016

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The archives of prominent Russian hearing and vision impairment specialists now available in digital format

The Russian Deafblind Support Foundation1 recently released digitized archived materials from prominent Russian vision and hearing impairment specialists Ivan Sokoliansky2 and Anatoly Mescheriakov3. The archives are now available for Russian speaking audiences on

Part of the collection will be translated into English in the near future.

The archives are divided into three parts. The first collection is that of Ivan Sokoliansky and includes his personal and working notes, diaries of observations made during his work in Kiev as well as hand written copies of his published articles. The collection includes the full bibliography of Sokoliansky’s written and published articles.

The second collection includes the notes of Dr. Mescheriakov, who introduced comprehensive methods for the rehabilation of Deafblind people in Soviet era Russia. His accomplishments included: establishing the renowned Zagorsk School for Deafblind people, developing the Center of Excellence, a Deafblind college for undergraduate students and arranging employment opportunities for graduates from the college.

The third collection comprises the materials and diaries of Dr. Mescheriakov and his working team, created while working with four brilliant Deafblind students (known as the ‘Zagorsk’ four) during their studies at the Zagorsk school and later at Moscow State University. This collection also includes notes and works written by the students themselves.

Besides the written texts, all three collections contain rare images that provide a visual account of the history of Deafblind studies in pre-revolutionary, Soviet era and contemporary Russia. For example, there are pictures of Dr. Sokoliansky with his deafblind students, including Olga Skorokhodova4, photos of the children’s orphanage in Kiev where Dr. Sokoliansky was working before his detention in World War 2, pictures of Zagorsk’s School for the Deafblind and of Dr. Mescheriakov’s laboratory, portraits of his Deafblind students working and chatting through the snapshots of their hand crafted artworks.

Dmitry Polikanov, President of the Russian Deafblind Support Foundation, indicates that these archives will expand in several ways over the next year. According to Polikanov, the entire digitized archives will be converted from the current image format into text format. As well, approximately 1000 items from the archive will be translated into English.

Notably, the archive will be enhanced in 2016 through the addition of the works of Avgusta Yarmolenko5, a student and colleague of Dr. Sokoliansky. Previously unpublished articles of Dr. Mescheriakov will also be added to the archive. Regarding the importance of the archive to deafblind science, Polikanov said “this archive represents a significant contribution to the study of deafblindness and will help scholars all over the world in their further research into this condition”.
Alex Overchuk

Russian Deafblind Support Foundation


2 van Sokoliansky was the founder of the Kharkov School for Deaf-Blind in Russia and developed the principle of shared activity in the rehabilitation of disable children. From Vygotsky’s Psychology: A Biography of Ideas by Alex Kozulin .Harvard University Press 1990 (

3 From Vygotsky’s Psychology: A Biography of Ideas by Alex Kozulin .Harvard University Press 1990 (

4 Olga Skorokhodova was one of famous Zagorsk Four educated at the Zagorsk School for the Deafblind.

5 Russian psychologist, defectologist, Doctor of Education, professor at Leningrad State University, expert in the area of research of deaf-mutism with blindness.

Summer Camps for Russian Deafblind children

The Russian Deafblind Support Foundation ‘Con-nection’1 organized two camps for deafblind children during this past summer of 2015. The first camp was attended by children with their families while the second camp hosted children with visual and hearing impairment from various Russian orphanages from Moscow District to Western Siberia.

The primary purpose of the two camps, held in the Russian Black Sea Region, was to provide the children with much needed summer rest and recreation. Activities included swimming with hydrotherapy specialists, animal therapy with dolphins, art therapy, breathing technique sessions. Other activities included consultations with psychologists and specialist teachers and workshops to build more effective communication between the children and their families and tutors. The camps also featured an important educational dimension, incorporating the work of prominent specialists on deafblindness.

The main goal of the first camp for deafblind children and their families was to offer a supportive, relaxing environment for families and to help them to learn more about communicating with each other, as well as expanding the range of activities they can all enjoy together.

The educational part of the program was developed by the Institute for Correctional Pedagogics2. Young specialists came to listen to lectures given at the summer school and also had a chance to analyze the activities and behaviours of deafblind children and their families during their rest and recreation periods. At the end of the program, the student specialists submitted a paper of their observations and analyses. The results from their work were discussed with the Institute’s specialists and further work was discussed and developed.

Another important result of the school camp was the new support network built by the parents of deafblind children. The families were able to share experiences and concerns, and were eager to develop relationships of sharing and support.

The main aim of the second camp was to improve communication of deafblind children from orphanages with their tutors who would spend the most time with them during the day. Besides practical consultations, tutors were given lectures by specialists from Sergiev Posad School for Deafblind3 on topics such as calendar system implementation and self-care skills development.

Sabina Savchenko, head of the ‘World, Society, Family’ program4, said “It was a real challenge for us to go through several important phases of work with children and guardians in the very short period of the time (10 days) that we had with them. There were psychological and special medical diagnoses to be made, correctional mental and physical development training sessions with experienced specialists, evaluations of interactions between children and adults and individual psychological and pedagogical consultations. The positive result of this intense program of work is the dramatic development we have witnessed in each of the participants of our camps”.



Sergiev Posad School for Deafblind was once known as the Zagorsk School for the Deafblind



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