For most of us, the thought of losing our sight or hearing is pretty frightening but the concept of losing both sight and hearing is almost impossible to imagine. Sense International will be working to ensure that 250 deafblind children and young people in Uganda are receiving educational services by the end of the first year of this three-year project. Due to the degree of disability and the distances involved we will be taking life-changing support to children within their homes. This innovative project aims to reduce poverty, impart life skills, influence behavioural change and increase the integration of deafblind persons into society.
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Training of partner staff Funding from the Big Lottery Fund in 2007 allowed us to begin to identify and build partnerships with local organisations. None of these partners has any prior experience of working with deafblind people but all currently provide educational services for disabled children. This project will allow each partner to build the identification of deafblind children, and a community based education service for deafblind children and young adults into their current service delivery. Sense International (East Africa) will deliver a comprehensive training package for the community based workers, using experience from Sense International (India), which has been implementing a similar programme for ten years. We intend to train 50 community-based workers during this project, approximately ten from each organisation, depending on the coverage, population size and potential numbers of deafblind children in each area. Identification and functional assessments of deafblind children Community-based workers will provide basic training on deafblindness to village health committees, women‚Äôs groups, local government and health clinics to raise awareness and encourage referrals. Children referred from local communities to the partner organisations will receive a visit from a community-based worker to determine whether a child is deafblind. From previous experience of referrals, we estimate that as many as 25% will be identified as deafblind and referred. Each of the deafblind children will then receive a medical assessment to determine the degree of vision and hearing impairment, whether the child‚Äôs deafblindness could be assisted by a visual aid or audio device, and the nature of any rehabilitative therapy to assist mobility. The development of appropriate educational services If the deafblind child or young adult is geographically and physically able to access an educational unit, Sense International (East Africa) will help the child to travel to attend the school. Where this is not possible, the deafblind child will receive educational services in their home. Each community-based worker will conduct home visits for each deafblind child at least once a week for about two hours each visit. They will design an Individual Learning Plan for each child, involving the family and the wider community. The learning programme takes account of the child‚Äôs individual needs and circumstances and gives clearly identified milestones. For a deafblind child, the initial focus might be to develop mobility, helping the child to sit on their own and then progress to standing and walking. The worker will involve key members of the family at all stages with the aim of encouraging them to continue the learning in between home visits. Project outcomes: ‚Ä¢250 deafblind children identified, assessed and receiving community based services; ‚Ä¢50 staff of five partners trained in community-based education for deafblind children; ‚Ä¢Deafblind children and their families able to communicate and inter-relate for the first time; ‚Ä¢Deafblind children integrated in their families and communities; ‚Ä¢1,000 parents and relatives trained to interact and take better care of their deafblind child; ‚Ä¢Deafblind children able to make an economic contribution to the family; ‚Ä¢Teachers more receptive to the integration of deafblind children in mainstream education; ‚Ä¢By 2011, at least two partners will have developed the capacity to take over service provision to the deafblind without the continued financial investment of Sense International. Outstanding shortfall The overall cost of the project is ¬£42,932 and we have secured funding in the amount of ¬£20,807 to date from The UK Department for International Development and a private trust. Our outstanding shortfall is ¬£22,125.
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