When someone is deafblind the combination of not being able to see or hear means they encounter many challenges in daily life.
It is hard to communicate with loved ones and feel heard. It is difficult to move around safely. In many of the countries where we work disability is seen as a curse and children with deafblindness are hidden away by parents who don’t know how to support them and who fear the reaction of the local community. Without support, these children will face a lifetime of loneliness and isolation, unable to form basic connections with those around them.
It’s estimated that 0.2% of the world’s population is living with severe deafblindness which is around 15 million people. This is why the work of Sense International is so important.
Sense International is a global charity with over 25 years’ experience in providing expert support, and reaching approximately 80,000 people each year. We are a small charity with a big impact due to the way we work. We work in partnership with people with deafblindness, their families, communities, health and education professionals, disabled people’s organisations and governments. We work directly with local people and local organisations to pass on expertise so that each country can carry on this vital work independently.
At Sense International we take a life-cycle approach.
We aim to find and identify children with deafblindness as early as possible, as we know that receiving the right support in these early years of development has the biggest impact on children’s lives. We train local health professionals to conduct screening and identification and to provide one to one support to help children learn how to communicate with their family, move around safely and become more independent e.g. feeding themselves.
We train parents so that children can learn at home. We train local teachers and learning support assistants so that children with deafblindness can attend school, make friends and reach their potential. We advocate with governments for inclusive education policies, adaptations to curricula and facilities.
We make sure that young people with deafblindness have the opportunity to learn vocational skills so they can get a job or start a business and provide for themselves and their families.
But we don’t stop there, we talk to communities about disability to breakdown stigma, we work with disabled people’s organisations to ensure people with deafblindness are heard by decision-makers and we provide evidence to governments to promote investment in services and support for people with deafblindness.
Our goal is to ensure that everyone with deafblindness can live, learn and thrive.