I Can See and Hear Through Touch – First International Congress on Deafblindness in Georgia

On December 4, 5, 6, 2020, online on Zoom platform, The First International Congress on Deafblindness in Georgia – „I Can See and Hear Through Touch” was held.

The goal of the Congress was to raise awareness of decision makers and the public about deafblindness and to draw their attention to the importance of creating and implementing an effective management standard for dual sensory loss.

For three days, within the framework of planned lectures, discussions, and workshops led by Georgian and foreign experts in this field. The problem faced by deafblind people in Georgia and other countries were discussed. There was also an opportunity to exchange international experiences and best practices.

International experts were represented from the following countries: Poland, India, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain, Canada. They shared valuable knowledge and information with Georgian specialists, deafblind people and the audience of the Congress.

In addition to valuable content, Congress was distinguished by a high degree of accessibility for the deafblind. Sign language interpretations and subtitles were provided throughout the congress. To ensure accessibility – to provide subtitles for the material, several videos were pre-recorded and made in accessible format. The part of the congress that was broadcast LIVE was provided by Live Captioning. This was a precedent in the Georgian reality. The first time the whole event was supported with sign language interpretation and subtitles.

As for the blind and visually impaired, the Congress program, invitation, and instructions for orientation on the Zoom platform were provided in an accessible format that can be read by their reading program. In addition, audio descriptions of operating instructions on the Zoom platform were provided to them throughout Congress.

As part of the Congress, the Handbook Accessibility Guidelines for Sensory Loss was translated into Georgian, providing guidance for architects, designers, service providers, and engineers on how to make the home and its surroundings accessible/inclusive for people with sensory loss. The guide was created in Canada by the DeafBlind  Ontario Services. It should be noted that this is the first manual on this topic in Georgian. One of the blocks of the congress was devoted to this manual at a seminar led by a representative of the DeafBlind  Ontario Services. The guide has been prepared in a format accessible to the blind – with alternate texts, PDF, and larger print.

The international congress was held under the auspices of the Public Defender of Georgia and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland within the framework of the project “Creating a Support System for the DeafBlind in Georgia,” which has been implemented since 2018 by the Polish organization HumanDoc Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland.

The congress was organized by the HumanDoc Foundation and the Georgian Union of Deafblind.

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