Access to specialised advice, opportunities and support for people with deafblindness

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Sometimes, fate can deal a challenging hand for families.Tania (aged 9), Tanzil (aged 7) and Zahidul (aged 4 years) are three siblings from the same family who are all Deafblind and consequently rely on the support provided by CDD.

In 2009, The Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) initiated a specialist service for persons with deafblindness in Bangladesh with the technical support of Sense International India and the financial assistance of UKaid. In order to execute its deafblind program, the National Resource Centre on deafblindness was established, targeting the most vulnerable and socially-isolated children and adults in the country. It is estimated that 10.7% of the population of Bangladesh have multiple disabilities and this figure includes those who have deafblindness. The objective of CDD’s deafblind Program is to promote an inclusive society where persons with deafblindness have access to the advice, opportunities and support that are necessary to meet their unique needs and challenges.

Deafblindness is a combination of both hearing and vision loss which also severely hampers speech and often presents along with additional disabilities such as epilepsy, autism, cerebral palsy and other forms of physical disability. Persons with deafblindness face considerable and multiple challenges in daily life, as they find it very difficult to interact with other people because of their severe lack of communication skills. As a result, they are excluded from participation both within their family environment and in society in general, their rights are ignored and their needs are not addressed. Without recognition and understanding, this rejection can lead to a sub-human form of existence. This prompted CDD to intervene in order to raise awareness and understanding of deafblindness, and provide support to people and families affected in order to uphold the basic rights and provide a voice to these most marginalised of persons with disabilities.

CDD’s deafblind Program is delivered by a team of skilled people, comprising CDD and partner organisation staff, who have been extensively trained as deaflblind trainers and/or Field Educators by experts from Sense International in India.The program comprises several components which are as follows:

National Resource Centre (NRC) on Deafblindness
The National Resource Centre (NRC) is based in Dhaka and provides information, specialised training, and disseminates resource materials to families, teachers and organisations about deafblindness. Its publications include informative newsletters, booklets, case studies and awareness-raising materials. The NRC offers three specialist deafblindness training courses focused on developing basic, intermediate or advanced skills in understanding and addressing Deafblind issues, which are conducted over one, three or ten days respectively. Further details and course dates can be accessed from the National Resource Centre.

Day Care Centre
The Deafblind Day Care Centre is also based in Dhaka to cater for deafblind children and their carers living in the city. This service aims to improve child survival, development and learning by focusing on health, nutrition, hygiene and basic daily living activities which are critical to the child’s ability to develop and on teaching the children and carers/parents how to communicate with each other.

Schools for children with special needs
In order to reach persons with deafblindness living outside Dhaka city, CDD also has a regional service network in six districts of Bangladesh. This network comprises of trained deafblindness workers within selected CDD partner organizations which disseminate information about deafblindness and provide needs-based support services to families, deafblind children and communities in regional and remote areas.

Contact the National Resource Centre on Deafblindness.