Sense International completes 25 years of serving people with deafblindness
Ahmedabad, April 1, 2022
Sense International India, an Ahmedabad-based national-level NGO working for the cause of people with deafblindness in India, celebrated 25 years of its existence on this week, marking a momentous occasion in its journey.
India is home to an estimated 5 lakh children and adults with deafblindness, but before Sense International India, there was only one school that provided services to 23 deafblind children. From three projects in three states, Sense International India has grown this number to 80,000 through 59 projects in 23 states.
“It is a special year. While the entire world is coming to grips with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sense International India is celebrating 25 years of transforming the lives of people with deafblindness. To be the only national-level organisation working with people with deafblindness is a remarkable feat. A lot has been accomplished over the past 25 years as we have practised ‘leave no one behind' with a vigour like no other, but we realise that there is a lot more to be done,” said Amith Dholakia, Chairperson, Sense International India.
Sense International India was founded in Ahmedabad on March 29, 1997, and has played a pivotal role in transforming the lives of about 80,000 people with deafblindness across the country with the help of a network of grassroots organisations.
The organisation was founded with the vision of a world in which all children and adults with deafblindness can be full and active members of society.
Some of the major milestones achieved by Sense International India in the last 25 years include establishing 59 projects across the country in partnership with other NGOs working in the field of disability and build their capacity in deafblindness, implementing centre-based and home-based interventions, teacher training programmes, capacity building of professionals, advocacy efforts, and many more.
Some of Sense International India’s success stories comprise the inclusion of deafblindness in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, working with the Election Commission to have the people with deafblindness exercise their right to vote, and inclusion of rubella vaccine in the National Immunisation Programme. Even at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the centres were closed, Sense International India started online courses for parents and caregivers on deafblindness so that children’s learning wasn’t affected.
A coffee table book titled "25 years of Transforming Lives’ was also released on the occasion. Akhil Paul, Founder Director, Sense International India said, “The 25 stories in this book are a culmination of the past 25 years. This book will offer you an insight into the hands we have guided to discover the world beyond their reach. They are the hidden heroes who are making a space for themselves in the world and telling people that they exist.”
Based on its expertise, Sense International India has now started to assist other South Asian countries like Nepal and Bangladesh in the field of deafblindness. Its nationwide initiatives on deafblindness have resulted in the organisation receiving consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC).
The organisation pointed out that 95% of what people learn is through eyes and ears. Deafblindness is a physical condition that combines varying degrees of both hearing and visual impairment. All individuals who are deafblind experience extreme challenges with communication and mobility. Most of them also have other disability conditions such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy and autism.
Persons with deafblindness face neglect and discrimination owing to their inability to communicate and relate to the world, and are denied the basic human rights of education and medical care, amongst other needs.
Sense International India is the only national-level organisation supporting specialised educational and rehabilitation services for children and adults with deafblindness. It has unique technical know-how and expertise in the objectives it has set like providing information, guidance, support, and training. It also guides persons with deafblindness and multiple disabilities and their families by raising awareness, campaigning for rights, opportunities and services, a press release from the organisation added.