Message from Frank Kat, President of DbI

Dear friends and colleagues
These days we are all faced with unprecedented, challenging and difficult times. As it is might be difficult to cope with it for all of us, it is even more so for people with deafblindness. Day by day situation, rules and practice is changing. Evolving COVID-19 situation is changing our lives on a day to day basis and sometimes even shorter. As we all know persons with disabilities and their services are at risk.
And deafblind people are particularly in vulnerable situations since contact is so important in our practice.
Let us find each other now and stand together in these difficult times!
Deafblind International is about connecting. Connecting persons with Deafblindness, parents, teachers, caregivers, therapists, researchers, it is also about solidarity as a community especially now.
Communication is crucial in these times, so I invite all of you to use our networks: our special Facebook page, website, Instagram or other channels.
Actively share and exchange best practices and solutions.
Let’s do this together. Let’s find each other so we can keep communication open for those who need it the most, right now!
DBI is the point of connection, so let all of us use that point to make it work.
Thank you all for doing all you can do, the best you can do.
Frank Kat, DeafBlind International

We are a 2019 Canadian Nonprofit Employer of Choice (NEOC)!

We are excited to announce that we are a 2019 Canadian Nonprofit Employer of Choice (NEOC)! 

This year, 12 organizations from across Canada fulfilled program requirements to be named a Canadian Nonprofit Employer of Choice. 

 The 2019 award recipients are: 

The NEOC Award is a tool that measures a nonprofit’s Leadership attributes, HR practices and employee opinions. The NEOC program provides a framework to evaluate an organization’s talent management issues and start building a corrective plan of action. This program 

further enables the board and senior staff to probe and analyze the issues and start the transformational change needed to achieve the impact that donors rightly expect.

Since 2015, the Nonprofit Employer of Choice Award has recognized nonprofits whose exemplary talent management practices support successful mission delivery in the communities they serve.

True to our vision of being a leader in the field of deafblindness, DeafBlind Ontario Services was a NEOC award winner in 2015 and 2016 as well!

Congratulations to all of the 2019 NEOC award winners! For more information on the program and the award, visit Nonprofit Employer of Choice Award.



Karibu to Kenya

The cake came at the end: At the farewell party at the Deafblind Unit of Kilimani Integrated Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya. A real celebration: A celebration of new friendships and of the milestones achieved on the way to the very 1st African Conference of DbI. It will take place in Nairobi from 6th to 8th October 2021.

Save the date right now! The conference is guaranteed to make history. The passion and competence of the newly founded Planning Committee will ensure that:

Edwin Osundwa, Sense International Country Representative Kenya (Chair)

Kevin Sudi, Programme Manager Kenya Country Office, CBM International

Mary Maragia, Head Deafblind Unit, Kilimani Integrated Primary School/Perkins International

Peter Oracha Adoyo, Associate Professor Special Needs Education, Maseno University

Stella Kamau, Jofreshua Achievers Special Center Services/Perkins International

Wilson Masinza, Kenya National Association of the Deafblind 

Lydia Chege, Deputy Director Kenya Institute of Special Education KISE

Karibu to Kenya – Welcome to Kenya!

Mirko Baúr, Vice-President DbI

students and teachers of Kilimani celebrating the farewell cake
Deafblind boy working with pearls in Kenya
Deafblind boy enjoying the cake
school buses Kilimani Primary School

Winter School on the Basics of Psychological and Educational Support, Moscow

From January 24 to February 1 the Winter School was held by Deafblind Academy ‘Con-nection’. The program included three blocks of activities. First, we organised rehabilitation of eight young adults living with sensory impairments. Adapted physical education provided individual training designed for individual abilities. Swimming and nordic walking in a softwood forest contributed to keeping fit and improving health. Young adults also had consultations with special psychologists who tried to improve communication and emotional skills through special training and discussion of everyday life. In the evening, they had collective workshops where psychologists up-graded fine motor skills, attention, and teamwork skills.

These people with sensory impairments were accompanied by volunteers who had experience of assistance and knew Russian Sign Language. Most of them are students of pedagogic institutes and after a week of practice in Winter School they received certificates which proved their practical skills.

While others tried out for new activities, educators from all the Russia were going through intensive advanced courses. It is the third area of work which is aimed to supply specialists from different ares who work with people with disabilities. Lectures and talks were devoted to the concept of visual and hearing impairment, communication systems of deaf-blind people, family issues of a deaf-blind person, diagnosis of mental development, and others. Educators were not listeners only, but they had opportunities to practice new skills in contact with people with disabilities.

‘This Winter School beсame a breakthrough both for us and the participants. Most young adults had never left their families, and we succeeded in creating the necessary conditions for people with multiple disabilities’, – conclude the organizers.

January 4 - World Braille Day

Since last January 4, 2019, at the United Nations, recognized and declared World Braille Day on this date. This event coincides with the birth of the creator of the literacy system that bears his name.
Louis Braille, who was born this day in 1809 in France, became blind due to an accident during his childhood while playing in his father’s workshop.
This recognition aims to create greater awareness about the importance of braille as a means that allows access to culture and education and as a means of communication for full integration and achievement of the human rights of blind and visually impaired people in the world, This is reflected in the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
But what does Braille mean for deafblind people?
Contributing in addition, all the possibilities that for access to culture and education allow, as for any other blind person, this code or literacy system can be the only and exclusive means to access information and, above all, distance communication for many deafblind people. When there are no functional sensory remains to access information through the visual or auditory channel, Braille becomes the exclusive medium that allows this in a full way.

Other systems of tactile access to information are not as widespread or even much more limited systems, methods in vibration patterns, provide deafblind people with useful but very concrete solutions. There is nothing more complete or alternative to allow deafblind people to access information, culture and distance communication than Braille.
We cannot allow therefore Braille to identify itself with something old or less current. The new technologies have allowed Braille to be a basic and fundamental accessibility tool. For deafblind people, it means the possibility of communicating in the distance with any other person. There is nothing similar or alternative for this to be a reality and allow that communication.
From the heavy, old and expensive Braille Lines of the 90s to the possibility that a deafblind person can use their smartphone and access it to communicate on Whatsapp as anyone thanks to the Braille system is an impressive leap in the communication possibilities deafblind people.
From ONCE in Spain we strengthen and bet strongly on Braille and because this set Technology + Internet + Braille can be the way for many deafblind people to be able to communicate with those who are not physically there.

We all know about the difficulties of learning Braille in adulthood, and more if there are linguistic difficulties derived from hearing loss but this effort is essential and necessary to avoid the lack of communication and dependence of people in the environment so that a deafblind person can access remote communication and information with a minimum of autonomy and personal possibilities. There are very important reasons that justify it.

Happy World Braille Day.
Eugenio Romero Rey. ONCE Deafblind Technical Unit Coordinator.