Driven by Sense

Driven by Sense

Sense International India   |   20 April 2018

Lumlang,19, was born completely deafblind in a small village in Meghalaya that has a population of around 100 people, most of whom are marginal farmers. His parents were counseled to send him to Bethany Society, Shillong for his education — where Sense India started supporting a pilot program for deafblind people in Meghalaya. Since then he has been under the care of educators Suniya and Salchiana. They taught him basic sign language and Braille which facilitated communication with the world around him. He was taught to understand and explore the environment to help him move around freely. Today, Lumlang is an avid communicator. He is an expert at Braille and numbers and can make his way anywhere in the neighborhood on his own.

Sense International India (also known as Sense India) is the first and only national level NGO supporting the development of comprehensive and specialised services for people with deafblindness throughout India, and in collaboration with government at centre and state levels. Their vision is of a world in which all children and adults with deafblindness become contributing members of society. Till now, they have worked with numerous people — just like Lumlang — and have helped make a difference in their lives.

Deafblindness is a unique and complex disability causing extreme challenges. 95% of what we learn is through our eyes and ears; so one can only imagine what it is like to live the life of a deafblind person. The main cause of deafblindness in India is Rubella (German measles) which combines varying degrees of both hearing and visual impairment.

550,000 people suffer from deafblindness in India. Until 1997 helped reached very few people , but the number of people helped increased after Sense India stepped in. This graph shows the increase in the number of people helped by Sense India .

Sense India combines individual, corporate, institutional and government support to work with a growing network of partner organisations. Their partners provide a wide range of services to identify deafblindness. They also create opportunities for children and young adults through home and centre based services to learn communication and daily-living skills, receive basic education and acquire income generating skills which lead to family-based productive activities and independent living.

They have provided high quality baby-screening and referral, home-based education and other services to around 13,588 children with deafblindness through 56 education NGOs in 22 states. They also provide skills and livelihood training to adults with deafblindness. They provide training to the family members of individuals with deafblindness and also help sensitise educators and professionals to provide quality support. Through collaboration with the government’s national ‘inclusive education’ Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) program, they have enabled more than 63,500 children with deafblindness and multi-sensory impairments (MSI) to access an education.

Sense India is a member of several central and state level advisory groups and its biggest achievement has been its efforts in getting recognition for deafblindness in the recently passed, ‘Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016’, which has subsequently led to the condition being recognised as a disability and the rights of people with this condition to be protected. Inclusion of vaccination for Rubella under the Universal Immunization Program is another feather in Sense India’s cap; along with their consultative status on policies regarding deafblindness.

Sense India has won several awards some of which include Great Non-Profits Top Rated Awards 2017. Sense India also received the ‘GuideStar India Transparency Award 2016’: Gold Certification. The award recognises organisations that practice and voluntarily demonstrate their transparency and accountability in the public domain. They were also awarded the ‘India NGO Award 2013–14’ which recognises professional management, innovation in local resource mobilisation and effectiveness in improving the lives of the people it serves.

To know more about the work that Sense India does, log on to their website and their Facebook page.

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