Seven months since the COVID-19 outbreak: How our teams are supporting people with deafblindness around the world
30 October 2020
It’s been more than half a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the world has experienced massive change in that time and continues to do so. During times of crisis, the most vulnerable members of society are often the ones most severely affected, and Sense International’s priority remains the people with deafblindness/ multi-sensory impairments (MSI) who we support.
Here are some of the latest updates from the Sense International teams around the world.
Following emergency ration support, Sense International India has been working online to continue to build the capacity of parents/ caregivers, professionals and educators to support people with deafblindness. This has included accessible awareness videos with information about COVID-19, webinars and online courses.
Webinars have covered a range of topics including: Individualised Education Plans, which are specialised curricula for all people involved in improving the lives of people with deafblindness; assessing the abilities of people with deafblindness/ MSI; planning and teaching strategies for children with deafblindness/ MSI; education about deafblindness for parents and caregivers; and Early Intervention and assessment of children with deafblindness.
In Nepal, with technical support from Sense International India, we are running a project called “Healthy Life of People with Deafblindness in Nepal”. The programme is supporting families of children with deafblindness working closely with our partner organisation, the Society of Deafblind Parents (SDBP).
Sabina has deafblindness and lives with her family, who are financially dependent on her mother who works as an office helper and housemaid. When lockdown restrictions were extended in Nepal, the family faced difficulties as Sabina’s mother was not able to work at either of her jobs.
When the SDBP identified the problems Sabina’s family were facing, the organisation provided emergency food and hygiene items. Sabina’s family were very thankful for the support at this challenging time.
Nine-year-old Humayra has deafblindness and epilepsy and lives with her mother and grandparents. She has been supported by Sense International’s work in Bangladesh since being identified as a person with deafblindness through screening. She was supported at home to prepare to attend a mainstream school which she joined in early 2019.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Humayra’s mother lost her job and the family had to rely on her grandfather’s income. Humayra’s therapy and home visits by our specially trained Disability Field Educator had to stop and unfortunately her progress was affected as a result. Her school closed and she couldn’t play with her friends. She was frustrated at having to stay at home and it was difficult for her family to explain the situation to her.
Since then, Sense International has been able to re-establish support and Humayra is now enjoying video calls with her Disability Field Educator, who visits her wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) once a month which makes her happy. The family has also received funding to buy food and medicines which has been a great help.
Sense International Peru has been running virtual training sessions, due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, for teaching and non-teaching staff supporting people with deafblindness. The sessions have covered topics including communications strategies and sensory approach strategies, with modules including communication and deafness, and visual and auditory systems.
Sense International Kenya is part of the Inclusive Futures initiative. Funded by UK Aid, the project provides direct assistance to people with deafblindness/ MSI who own micro-enterprises, including providing PPE and accessible information on how to stay safe for them and their families.
The project is helping people like Korir, a young man with sensory impairments, and his father. They are being supported to grow their pineapple cultivation micro-enterprise through training, ongoing business mentorship and links with established commercial enterprises.
When COVID-19 hit Kenya, Korir’s business was badly affected by lockdown restrictions. This resulted in a loss of income for Korir and his family, which has led to an uncertain future.
“The lockdown has led to a lack of income as clients are dwindling. There is no market to sell my milk and my pineapples,” said Korir.
But thanks to Sense International Kenya, Korir and his family have received PPE and accessible information about COVID-19 using the tablet computers they have been provided with as part of this project.
Sense International Romania is holding an international, online conference, ‘Deafblindness During the Pandemic’, which takes place between November 23 – 25 2020. Together with international and national speakers, the conference will explore how the pandemic inﬂuences communication for people with deafblindness/ MSI, the ways technology can support them, and the challenges and opportunities during this time.
The conference will take place online and participation is free. Those interested in attending can fill in the registration form.
How you can help
You can support Sense International so we can continue to be there for people with deafblindness/ MSI during the COVID-19 crisis. Find out how to give a gift today.
First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019