Bangladesh is one of the world’s poorest countries and its deafblind children are extremely isolated.
Most receive no support at all and many are rejected and abused by their communities. Families of deafblind children are often stigmatised for having a disabled child – and do not know how to support their child.
In 2007 Sense International joined forces with the Dhaka-based Centre for Disability in Development, to create Bangladesh’s first ever programme of services for deafblind children. Before this, deafblindness was not even recognised as a disability by the Government.
“A year ago, I was sitting on this very road and begging for a living. Now at the same spot, I do meaningful work. My pride is restored”
Babu Akand, a 40-year-old deafblind man
We work closely with parents so that their deafblind child can develop communication, self-help and mobility skills – and grow in confidence. In addition, we help adults to learn work skills so that they can earn a wage, contribute to their family’s income and live a decent life in society.
- Since we started, we have offered home-based education and rehabilitation to over 650 children and 50 adults in the rural areas of Bangladesh and the capital city of Dhaka.
- We have set up deafblind services at 16 locations in 15 districts, and 28 specialist Deafblind Field Educators (DFE) have been trained to work with deafblind people.
- We have introduced Bangla sign language, a tactile communication method for deafblind people.
- We have raised awareness of deafblindness with about 150 teachers in four specialist schools so that they understand the unique needs of deafblind children.
A chance to work
Our trained educators work with deafblind adults and their families so that they can learn work skills. This means that they can earn a wage, contribute to the income of the family and live a decent life in society.
For example - one deafblind man was suffering from a lack of confidence and other social difficulties. With support from us he now works confidently in a small shop. Another young woman helps out at her family’s plant nursery.
We work with parent groups and organisations in 16 districts to support families and help them fight for their children’s rights – and we have raised awareness of deafblindness in more than 400 disability organisations.
- As a result of working closely with the Ministry of Health, one-stop services for people with disabilities have been introduced by the Department of Social Welfare. These are being piloted in 16 districts currently and this will expand to 64 districts of Bangladesh by the end of this year.
- As a result of our strong advocacy, deafblindness has been included in the government’s draft Disability Bill.
- The Ministry of Disaster Management, which supports people affected by flood, now also supports families with a deafblind person.
- The Government has also planned provision for 35 deafblind people in its newly built disability rehabilitation complex.
- We worked on a prime time TV documentary that explained our work with deafblind people.
In Bangladesh Sense International work through our lead partner - Centre for Disability in Development (CDD). All enquiries should be directed to Sense International (India) below.
Sense International (India)
2nd Floor, Administrative Block
Andhjan Mandal Campus
Opp. Indian Institute of Management (IIM)
Vastrapur, Ahmedabad - 380 015
Tel: +91 79 2630 1282
Fax: +91 79 2630 1590
First published: Thursday 27 June 2013
Last updated: Monday 28 November 2016