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.

Meeting the President: Swiss Deafblind Education Day

A great success: The 1st Swiss Deafblind Education Day on the Bundesplatz in Bern led to various encounters between people with deafblindness and politicians. Even the President of the Swiss Confederation entered into a conversation. The campaign marking the 50th anniversary of professional deafblind education in Switzerland calls for a national report on the whereabouts of deafblind children and the quality of their support. Thanks to the campaign, all 246 members of parliament in Switzerland have also taken note of Deafblind International’s worldwide network.  Watch the short film.





Elisa Keesen awarded DBI Young leadership

It is a great pleasure to present the DBI Young professional leadership Award to Elisa Keesen said Frank Kat, President of Deafblind International, He adds: “The success the children achieve, the knowledge the professionals in the field gain and the scientific investigation into new possibilities would not be possible without her extraordinary commitment.

Elisa has contributed so much to the field of deafblindness in general and especially in Germany. A special talent that is seen by her colleagues is her ability to think about issues from the perspective of the individual who is deafblind. Her interest in always learning more and making a contribution to the field led her to the University of Education in Heidelberg. Her talents were observed by professors and she was hired as a research assistant on a project to look at the educational and social needs of children and youth with deafblindness. She was responsible for interviewing teachers, conducting a national survey and analyzing the data. Her extensive knowledge in the field of deafblindness led her to publish a book “Congenital Deafblindness and the Construction of the World”. This book is one of the rare books on deafblindness written in German and is extremely important to the field.

She shares her knowledge at various conferences. She is seen as a person who has the special competence to connect theories from other fields along with practical applications of deafblindness and through this connection she is able to create something completely new. Truly outstanding!

Elisa is flexible in her professional role – she can be an enriching playmate when working with children who are deafblind, she is a champion for the needs of individuals who are deafblind, a mentor to parents and colleagues and a scientist. In all her roles she works cooperatively with others and meets everyone as an equal partner.

Thanks, Elisa for your contribution and congratulation!!


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.
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 pawloskassu@gmail.com. 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 pawloskassu@gmail.com.


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 Baúr, Vice-President DbI

Addis: View of an Ethiopian Orthodox ChurchDbI dinner guests