The African Researchers’ Initiative ARI
Deafblindness is, unarguably, the most complex disability and the least researched area of disability especially in Africa. Despite the many progresses in addressing the issue of disability in Africa, people with deafblindness remain little known about and expectedly the most marginalized group of persons with disabilities in Africa. One of the major factors for the marginalization is lack of research. Very few researchers are working on deafblindness in the African context. Awareness campaigns, inclusion efforts and approaches used in the rehabilitation and education of persons with deafblindness in Africa are mostly based on research and international service organizations from developed countries. Aware of these facts and determined to alter the status quo, Deafblind International (DbI) is launching an initiative called African Researchers’ Initiative (ARI).
What is the overall objective of ARI?
The overall objective of ARI is to lay a strong foundation for knowledge-based services for people who are deafblind in Africa by stimulating and supporting African research on deafblindness.
What is the specific objective of ARI?
The specific objective of ARI is building a network of African researchers and support ten outstanding research projects to be finished by summer 2021 and ready to be presented at the very 1st African DbI Conference on Deafblindness in fall 2021 in Kenya. DbI has a broad understanding of research including action research of practitioners in the field.
How does ARI intend to achieve this objective?
ARI has a coordinator and a research advisory committee (AC ARI) in place which is overseen by the strategic Vice President of DbI. Members of the AC ARI are:
Prof. Dr. Marleen Janssen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Dr. Meredith Prain, Senses Australia, Australia
Dr. Daniel Dogbe, University of Education, Winneba, Ghana
Victor Locoro, Kyambogo University, Uganda
Pawlos Kassu Abebe, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
The AC ARI will soon release a call for abstracts to interested researchers and practitioners. Ten abstracts will be selected from the entries and those selected will be provided with a research grant of 500 Euros each.
The researchers who submit their research in due time will be further sponsored with an additional 700 Euros to present their research at the 1st African DbI Conference on Deafblindness scheduled to be held in Nairobi, Kenya in fall 2021.
The researchers also will be helped to become members of DbI’s Research Network or any other DbI Network that might be interesting to them. Through their membership in one of DbI’s Networks they will have the opportunity to get to know, exchange and collaborate with practitioners and renowned researchers in the field and to get information on conferences relevant to deafblindness around the world including the next DbI World Conference scheduled to be held in Canada in 2023.
African Researchers’ Initiative
Stimulating research in deafblindness in Africa
What to do?
Watch out for the call for abstracts. If you wish to receive the call for abstracts through your personal email, send your email address to the ARI coordinator at The call for abstracts and deadline for submissions will be sent out shortly. You also may wish to send this flyer to other researchers and practitioners.
For further information please contact the ARI coordinator at


It’s already started out great: With the opening of the 7th Africa Forum on Visual Impairment in the African Union. And it ended with two celebrations. Addis Ababa, the host city, celebrated the Nobel Peace Prize for the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali. And DbI the newly created network for the very first African conference of DbI. It will take place in autumn 2021 in Kenya. It involves passion, competence and great commitment throughout the continent and beyond. 13 people sat at the dinner table: activists with Deafblindness, researchers and practitioners. They will all do their utmost to ensure that the first African Conference takes place. As a conference that makes a real difference. For people with Deafblindness, for their families, their teachers and caregivers, for research, for Africa and the DbI world. Make a note right now: Kenya, autumn 2021.

Mirko Baur, Vice-President DbI

Addis: View of an Ethiopian Orthodox ChurchDbI dinner guests


Three family members from around the world share their stories with us. In their stories, we see their questions, their strategies and their strong messages to all of us who care for children who are deafblind.

By Yvette Gallegos, Namita Jacob and Graciela Ferioli

Introducing Deafblind International Communication Network

Deafblind International invites you to join the Deafblind International Communication Network. It gives you the opportunity to build connections around the world and to contribuite to the scientific world about deafblindness. Welcome and enjoy the video!


The 2nd International Young Researchers Conference on Deafblindness is a unique opportunity for newly engaged professionals (under the age of 40) to share their research initiatives and/or participate in training from highly recognized experts in the field. It is the largest venue in the world for those interested in the development, education and support of people with various degrees of vision and hearing impairment including individuals with addition disabilities (e.g. intellectual disabilities). In November 2019, exceptionally talented students, graduate students and young scientists from Europe, Asia, Americas and Russia will meet in St. Petersburg, Russia to engage in an agenda that includes professional development, research presentations, and networking with peers and experts. In addition, this 2nd annual conference will include a Pre-Conference for young adults with deafblindness. The Pre-Conference will overlap by one day with the researchers’ conference and participants will have the opportunity to share experiences, engage in action research activities and make personal connections to support continued collaborations.
The conference agenda spans a five-day period, with the following agenda:
Days 1 & 2 Young Adult Conference devoted to youth with deafblindness. Participating youth with participate in art workshops, excursions within the beautiful and historical city of St. Petersburg; team-building exercises; creative dramatic training; and other valuable experiences of determination.
Day 3 Young Deafblind Adults and Researchers will jointly participate in a program that provides facilitated activities for networking; building relationships; identify/discuss emerging challenges in the field of deafblindness and participate in the design future studies.
Day 4 & 5 These last two days of the conference are dedicated to the participating young researchers to share their experiences in the field; present their research and discuss their shared as well as country-specific developments in educating and support individuals with deafblindness. In addition, leading experts in the field of deafblindness will present plenary sessions and workshops.

Deafblindness is a unique and low incidence disability in which individuals present with a combined vision and hearing impairment. Professionals and scholars continue to develop and practice strategies that will make the lives of people with deafblindness better. Scientists travel the world, share their experiences, research difficult questions and literally explore the future. However, there is so much more to discover, develop and implement to address. It will take an international effort to solve challenges and create new methods on behalf of children, youth and adults with deafblindness – BECCOME A PART OF THIS INTERNATIONAL TEAM OF RESEARCHERS.
Parameters for Participation:
• Applicants must be young professionals who are interested and/or currently engaged in research within the field of deafblindness (it`s not important to have a great deal of experience in the field and a participant can be newly engaged; Youth with deafblindness should be interested in new experiences within the global community and have a desire to make new friends.
• Proposals may include presentations reflecting both large or small (single case) studies representing various fields (e.g. psychology, pedagogy, medicine, physiology, social work, etc.)
• Presentation Categories:
o Master Class Presentation: The Master Class is a 20-minute presentation of original research or practice relative to individuals who are deafblind and supported by current/emerging evidence;
o Short Message Presentation: The Short Message venue reflects a 5-7-minute presentation of original research or practice and/or an emerging research/practice idea or concept;
o Poster Presentation: Posters are an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the use of an emerging innovative practice, typically in the early stages of development.
• For the Pre-conference the registration fee is not required
• Registration fee for the Conference is 100 Euro, includes:
• Conference Bag and Program;
• Coffee-breaks and lunches;
• Access to conference proceedings after the event.
• To participate, please fill in the registration form, mark the form of participation and submit abstracts until September 20, 2019.
For more information, please, contact the organizers
Travel-coordinator (hotels, visa support)