Presenter 1 – Atul Jaiswal is a doctoral candidate at School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University. He is from India, where he previously worked for more than five years in non-profit sector as an occupational therapist, Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) professional and project manager for grant writing, volunteer management, and monitoring and evaluation of projects on disability rehabilitation. He is a gold medalist in Masters in Social Work in Disability Studies and Action from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. During his two years CBR fellowship, he was instrumental in initiating a successful advocacy campaign for people with disabilities (resulting in sanction of INR 15 million) on the issue of “Lack of Foot over Bridge and disabled friendly structures” at Vangani railway station for safety of 350 people with visual impairment and 5000+ people without disabilities. He has worked in Utah State Division of Services for People with Disabilities, Salt Lake City, USA in 2011. Before coming to Canada, he was working in Sense International India – a national organization for comprehensive services for people with deafblindness in India. He has received the prestigious scholarship “Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship” from the Government of Canada to pursue his doctoral studies in the field of rehabilitation science. He is pursuing his doctoral research on deafblindness in India under the supervision of Dr. Heather Aldersey (Queen’s National Scholar in international community-based rehabilitation). His current work also focuses on understanding the use of assistive technology for people with deafblindness or dual sensory loss. To know more visit https://twitter.com/atuljais111?lang=en
Age-friendly communities for older adults with deafblindness or dual sensory loss
Presenter 2 – Kelly Patterson works as the Manager of Client Services and Specialized Training for DeafBlind Ontario Services. DeafBlind Ontario Services is a not-for-profit organization that helps individuals who are deafblind to increase their independence and improve their quality of life through specialized services. With residential locations and community services programs across the province. Kelly has worked within the field of congenital deafblindness for over 20 years. She has been involved in the development of a person centred service model, Sensory Exploration Arts (SEA) program and Accessibility Guidelines for Sensory Loss. She currently sits on the Intervenor Services Human Resources Strategy (ISHRS): Education and Training Sub-committee. In addition, She has presented at several DeafBlind International and European Conferences.
The population worldwide is aging rapidly. By 2036, every one in four adults in Canada will be above 65 years of age. Environments play a significant role in enabling independence and capacity of individuals at different stages of life, and in particular in later years. In this world where the environment is rapidly changing and the population is advancing in age, there is a strong need to create “Age-friendly communities” that support better health, improved safety and greater participation of older adults of the community. The World Health Organization (WHO) is laying emphasis on the creation of age-friendly environments and importance of environments in attaining goal of active aging – “optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.” The role of age-friendly communities is indispensable in case of older adults with dual sensory loss or deafblindness who experience social isolation, participation barriers, and a myriad of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies. Age-friendly communities could protect these older adults who are more vulnerable and reduce their isolation and improve quality of life.
Individuals with deafblindness or dual sensory loss are those who have concurrent impairment in vision and hearing senses. There has been recent interest in this population in the scientific community due to evidence suggesting increase in prevalence of this condition in older adult population and age-related dual sensory loss is going to become an alarming concern for public health system. Individuals who are experiencing deafblindness or dual sensory loss have unique communication, accessibility, and mobility challenges. Their challenges are unique because a single sensory impairment can be more or less compensated by using the other sense, whereas in individuals with a deafblindness or dual sensory loss compensation may not help and they need new coping measures and support. Despite the terms deafblind and dual sensory loss are used interchangeably, evidence suggests that experiences of older adults with congenital or acquired deafblindness are somewhat distinct from those older adults with age-related dual sensory loss of vision and hearing.
Age-friendly environment could be created for people with deafblindness or dual sensory loss by removing the accessibility and knowledge barriers.
The aim of the workshop is to make professionals in the field aware of the challenges faced by these two groups and then present potential solutions. The workshop would be emphasize on the importance of strategies such as awareness generation, training of manpower (professionals), use of technology, and accessible barrier-free environment for these two groups. The workshop would be interactive by using case scenarios, direct interaction, and simulation activities such as using blind folds and ear plugs to simulate the experience of hearing and visual difficulties. The workshop will use case scenarios from the field in combination with recent knowledge developments in the field of deafblindness and dual sensory loss to present challenges and potential solutions. The simulation exercises would be complemented with the direct interaction with individual with deafblindness or dual sensory loss to provide a hands-on exposure.