The UN-accredited Sense International India, will be conducting a national-level training on deafblindness for Youth and Adults with deafblindness, Caregivers and Educators from January 4 to 6, 2023 at St Joseph’s Vaz Spiritual Renewal Center, Old Goa, preceding the Purple Fest; for 130 participants, states a press release.
Sense International India also known as Sense India was established in 1997 and is the first and only national level non-governmental organisation to support the development of comprehensive services for people with deafblindness and multiple disabilities throughout India. It works with local organisations to develop sustainable services for children and adults with deafblindness and collaborates with the government at centre and state levels to advocate for the recognition and realisation of rights of persons with deafblindness. It provides needs-based services to around 80,000 children and adults with deafblindness directly through 60 partner NGOs in 23 states of India, and through collaboration with the government’s national Samagra Shiksha – ‘inclusive education’ programme.
“Gender and sexuality are centrally important forces that shape every aspect of our lives. We know our bodies, minds and self through our gender and our sex. As the equal members of society, it’s important for deafblind young adults to understand that legal definitions and social expectations about our gender, sex and reproduction organize our medical, legal, educational and political systems. This training is an attempt towards creating the awareness amongst deafblind about sex, sexuality and gender,” said Akhil, Director, Sense International India.
The biggest achievement has been recognition of ‘deafblindness’ in the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016, ensuring that their rights are now protected. The inclusion of vaccination for Rubella under the Universal Immunisation Programme is another significant achievement of our advocacy initiatives. Sense India is also a member of several central government and state-level advisory groups.
Shruti Lata Singh, Person with Deafblindness, Specialist Network Support at Sense International India, informs: “It is each individual’s right to know and understand about sexuality and have control over their own body parts. This training will help people with deafblindness understand the same as their only source of information is though the information that is being shared to them by the interpreters while the sighted and hearing can gather information from unlimited sources.”
Gabel Mascarenhas, Project Coordinator of Caritas where the Sense India programme is implemented says: “The three-day training at St. Joseph Spiritual Renewal Centre will also have a deafblind trainer. With almost 1 percent of the population in India who are deafblind, there is a larger need to understand and address their unique needs. In tandem with UNESCO’s objectives on sex education, this National Training aims “to enhance the participants’ knowledge on physical, emotional, and social aspects of sex, sexuality and gender. The training will equip the participants with the right knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to realise their gender, well-being and dignity, develop respectful social and sexual relationships, and understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.”
The training will also help the youth and adults with deafblindness, parents/caregivers and educators to get over personal prejudices and discomfort and to foster an environment that not only educates about but also respects and celebrates diversity in gender identities, sexual orientation and expression. This training is supported by Caritas Goa and Government of Goa. The focus groups of this training are: (1) Youth and Adults with Deafblindness along with their Interpreters (2) Parents/Caregivers and (3) Special Educators. It has been funded by Azim Premji Foundation, Bajaj Finserv, Dharamsi Morarji Chemical Co., Gas Authority of India, Kamal India Foundation, Sense International UK and Thomas Cook.