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Let’s Talk Inclusion: digital solutions

Let's talk inclusion: Digital SolutionsDeafKidz International is pleased to announce its exciting participation at this year’s, Global Disability Summit on Monday 23rd July and Tuesday 24th July, in partnership with Islamic Relief Worldwide and Every1Mobile!

The summit aims to raise global attention and focus on a long-neglected area, mobilise new global and national commitments on disability and showcase good practice, innovation and evidence from across the world. Suffice to say, we’re delighted to be involved in this seminal event as we look to demonstrate, with our partners, the potential of mobile and internet technology for enabling D/deaf children and young people to access protection and safeguarding messaging.

This initiative will see DeafKidz International work with the global leader for digital inclusion, Every1Mobile, to develop content which D/deaf children can access through mobile phone and tablet devices. The content will be simple, easy to understand and replicable at scale. With Islamic Relief Worldwide we’ll be testing this operating methodology and content in a range of settings. All of which will enable DeafKidz International, Every1Mobile and Islamic Relief Worldwide to determine how best to utilise this technology to ensure reach, impact and behavioural change as never before!

Hosted by the British Government, the Government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance, the Summit has tabled a high level of ambition, seeking participants to be bold and brave in their commitment on four key themes; tackling stigma and discrimination, inclusive education, technology and innovation, and economic empowerment. We’re part of this commitment and have made a number of pledges we which will share with you now…

Tackling stigma and discrimination:

We will work in partnership with the Ayesha Bashir Trust in Pakistan, funded by UK AID Direct, to ensure D/deaf children and young people reduce their risk and vulnerability to negative stereotypes, attitudes and behaviours

Inclusive Education

We will work with the British Council and the European Union to ensure that teachers for the Deaf in Iraq protect and safeguard the D/deaf children in their care, reducing their risk and vulnerability to abuse

Technology and Innovation

In partnership with Islamic Relief Worldwide and Every1Mobile, we will ensure D/deaf children in low resource and complex humanitarian settings are able to access safeguarding messaging through digital messaging

Girls and Women with Disabilities

In partnership with Laureus Sport for Good, we will work to ensure D/deaf girls and young women in Jamaica reduce their risk and vulnerability to Gender Based Violence

People with Disabilities in Humanitarian Contexts

With Save the Children UK and Islamic Relief World Wide, we will work to ensure D/deaf children and young people in complex humanitarian settings are able to access protection, communication, health and educational services in the communication mode of choice

Over the next few days we’ll keep you updated on the progress of the summit; we’re trusting that much will be achieved!

DeafKidz’ Work Praised by Penny Mordaunt – Secretary of State for International Development

Photograph of Penny Mordaunt“I Praise the Work of DeafKidz International” — Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt
House of Commons – 18th April 2018

We’re delighted that the long and often frustrating journey to ensure the protection and safeguarding needs of D/deaf children is gaining recognition by DFID and other key humanitarian, development and global health decision makers. We applaud the support of the Secretary of State and are delighted that DFID is recognising the value of our work in addressing the challenge of Gender Based Violence in Jamaica, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Pakistan. Piloted in Jamaica, our DeafGirlz Shall! campaign is aimed at ensuring that at least 120,000 D/deaf girls and young women are able to reduce their risk and vulnerability to Gender Based Violence.

We’re doing this, quite simply, by training young D/deaf women as coaches and role models who will promote, enthuse and inspire D/deaf girls to say ‘No!’ to abuse… Our evidence suggests one in four D/deaf girls experiences sexual violence… That’s one in four too many and we’re resolved to addressing this outrage. Gender Based Violence undermines the health, dignity and security of its victims yet it is shrouded in silence. No one will talk and in the D/deaf community, a paralysis sets in… No one quite knows what to do. We’re working to address this inertia and to respond to the sexual and reproductive health consequences that occur including forced and unplanned pregnancies, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and even death.

Through our DeafGirlz Shall! campaign we’re working to provide victim and survivor support… That clinical, social, welfare and criminal justice responses are both integrated and D/deaf aware… A particular focus being the training of Sign Language Interpreters in the terminology, language and semantics of abuse, so that vital communication support can be afforded at a time where clear, accurate and appropriate translation is most needed.

In partnership with DFID, we shall continue our efforts to ensure that the hard to reach population of D/deaf children and young people are able to reduce their risk and vulnerability to abuse. With DFID and through the UK Aid Direct initiative, we will absolutely ensure no D/deaf child is left behind.

Signing Safe Futures Jamaica! Tackling the outrage of Gender Based Violence!

Photograph of a young woman punching a punching padWith the launch of our pilot Gender Based Violence (GBV) project in Jamaica, we’re working to explore new methodologies for ending physical, sexual and emotional violence against D/deaf girls and young women. In addition, we’re looking to determine how we can enable D/deaf girls and young women to feel secure and to stay safe from harm. We see GBV as founded in gender-based inequalities. It is, quite simply, an ugly and distressing manifestation of the inequality between female and male, one that constitutes a gross violation of human rights and which hinders gender equality.

Our experience is that most GBV happens within the family and that it can take many forms such as partner violence, sexual violence by non-partners, Female Genital mutilation (FGM), honour violence, early marriage, violence against LGBTI and trafficking in human beings. We’ve found evidence of all these being prosecuted against D/deaf girls and young women, so we’ve decided we must act.

Signing Safe Futures Jamaica! is just the start. Funded by Laureus Sport for Good and delivered in partnership with the Jamaican Association for the Deaf, this project sees the assembly of curriculum and content which empowers and enables D/deaf girls and young women to say ‘No!’ to GBV. To self-advocate and to self-represent so that they can reduce their susceptibility to abuse and exploitation.

This through the delivery of martial arts and dance sessions, taught by trained D/deaf and female coaches, who also act as role models for D/deaf girls, promoting safe behaviours and ensuring, both, an increase in gender equality and the transformation of gender norms. But what is unique about this programme is the work being undertaken to reframe masculinity amongst D/deaf boys. Working together, the D/deaf coaches and some of their participant D/deaf girls will assemble a module for presentation to D/deaf boys. One that will look at gender expectations, roles and responsibilities from the perspective of D/deaf girls, who will then go onto present the module’s composite activities to D/deaf boys themselves!

The strengthening of legal and policy frameworks to address GBV against D/deaf girls is also important as we work with a range of Criminal Justice stakeholders in Jamaica, to bridge the gap between law and practice and to end the impunity for GBV. All of which leads to a proven programme concept which, in partnership with the global donor community we will cascade to Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and South Africa.

Protecting and Safeguarding the Most Vulnerable: Our Commitment

Dear Friends,

I am sure that you, like we at DeafKidz International, have been surprised, shocked and disappointed by the recent allegations in the UK and international press against aid workers in some of the largest and most respected international humanitarian organisations.

As the global leader working to ensure the protection and safeguarding of D/deaf children and young people, It goes without saying that we are committed to ensuring vulnerable D/deaf children and young people feel safe whenever they engage with activities supported by DeafKidz International and managed by our partners. Rest assured, we are committed to ensure that when abuse occurs, it is identified and dealt with swiftly, rigorously and unequivocally. Indeed, that is one of the reasons why we exist.

To make sure we deliver on this commitment, we require all at DeafKidz International and all those that work with us, to adhere to the highest possible standards of child protection and safeguarding. To this end, we conduct a rigorous, robust, due diligence and screening process with all our partners and all that are associated with us. Through this we are able to affirm that our processes are fit for purpose and also that any prospective partner has the capacity and procedures to comply with the standards we require.

If, however, you have any concerns regarding the safety of the D/deaf children and young people we work with, then do please contact us.

You can contact me directly at or my colleague Jaz Mann at

Suffice to say, we will respond urgently and diligently to any occurrence that is reported to us.

With very best wishes

Steve Crump
Originator, Founder and Executive Director
DeafKidz International

Signing Safe Futures 2018

Photograph of Steve CrumpSteve Crump, DeafKidz International’s founder and Executive Director, reflects upon the challenges and opportunities facing DeafKidz International in 2018;

‘As we look ahead to DeafKidz International’s participation in the Global Health and Innovation Conference in New York, it is opportune to reflect on the growth and achievement of the last 12 months. And there is much to reflect upon; the completion of the ambitious ‘Advancing DeafKidz Jamaica!’ programme which saw more than 3400 D/deaf children access protection and safeguarding messaging, more than 1500 parents participate in safeguarding workshops, more than 150 criminal justice system professionals participate in Deaf awareness activity… And for the D/deaf children who were empowered to disclose the abuse they’d experienced; clinical, social welfare and criminal justice support in the communication mode of choice… For an evidence based organisation this is hugely significant as we work to document the evidence we’ve accrued to demonstrate need, to evidence impact and to ensure that all important long term donor / partner investment…

Our developing key message is very simple… The abuse and exploitation of D/deaf children and young people – particularly D/deaf girls and young women – is endemic. As a D/deaf led organisation fostering the integration of D/deaf and hearing, we’re not having that…

All of the learning, practice and change from the Jamaica programme has now been embedded, systematically, into Jamaica’s child protection framework and longevity has been secured through funding from the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Now working to address the challenge of Gender Based Violence, our Jamaica programme, delivered in partnership with the Jamaican Association for the Deaf, will see female coaches resourced to use the medium of martial arts and dance to ensure no D/deaf girl is subjected to the outrage of physical, sexual and emotional violence… This in turn proving an approach to addressing Gender Based Violence against D/deaf girls and young women which we will be looking to cascade across our developing footprint…

As we also progress our plans to conduct an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention pilot in Jamaica, in association with Kingston Public Hospital and the Ministry of Health, we will be working to ensure that all D/deaf female new-borns are instantly placed on a pathway of care; one that enables them to maximise their existing hearing, to self-advocate and self-represent… To be absolutely sure that this highly vulnerable group are able to say ‘No!’ to abuse…

And it is this Early Hearing screening that we’ve commenced in Pakistan in partnership with the Ayesha Bashir Trust and the Government of Punjab Ministry of Health. The training of Lady Health Workers to conduct simple screening tests is currently underway and we’re working to build an integrated capacity that will provide seamless speech and language, communication and sign language skills, parenting and mental health support in a pathway of care that is robust, sustainable and replicable. We’re currently testing our approach in Gujrat and drawing clinical support from our partners at the King Edward Medical University in Lahore. This is a three year programme and we’ll be working closely with the International Centre for Evidence in Disability, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to document the work effected.

Fresh from our joint seminar at the World Humanitarian Action Forum, the partnership with Islamic Relief Worldwide continues apace and sees the development of a Centre of Excellence for the Protection and Safeguarding of D/deaf children in Pakistan. This is a first for Islamic Relief and one that should see a model of best practice developed for cascade across the Islamic Relief global operation. It goes without saying, this is a hugely exciting opportunity for a start-up organisation like DeafKidz International and one which will enable us to learn and develop whilst impacting at reach and scale. Suffice to say, this is a unique partnership and one of which we are hugely proud.

Our partnership with Save the Children UK continues and we will be shortly presenting the findings of our research into the current European / Middle East refugee crisis and its impact upon D/deaf children; in particular, how the humanitarian community can better respond to the protection, safeguarding, communication, health, ear and hearing care needs of children trapped in the crisis.

Mental health and D/deafness is a big area for DeafKidz International and we shall continue to work with our partners at CBM and the International Centre for Evidence in Disability to test new approaches to managing this issue. Over 70% of D/deaf children in the UK experience some form of mental health challenge as a result of isolation, marginalisation and an inability to communicate. We can only surmise that in low resource and complex humanitarian settings this number is higher… We’ll get this evidenced and start looking at methodologies for responding to the mental health needs of D/deaf children…

As an organisation, we are working closely with our investment partners such as the Geneva based Oak Foundation, Comic Relief, DFID and Islamic Relief to ensure measured and sustained growth. This through the development of a funding model which secures investment in our programmatic work and also allows for investment in our organisational capacity. In addition, investment which allows us to establish a pooled fund for the protection of D/deaf girls and young women from Gender Based Violence. This, we have to say, will take some doing as few investors understand D/deafness, seeing it as complicated and expensive, involving scarce human resources such as sign language interpreters, speech and language specialists, ear and hearing care practitioners…

But we shall address this perception as we move forward, demonstrating empirically, through the use of health economic metrics, the value of our work in screening, the prevention of D/deafness – where possible through clinical intervention – and the use of communication methodologies, within a safeguarding framework, which will seek to maximise D/deaf children’s life chances and reduce their susceptibility to risk and abuse…

Given that the global challenge of D/deafness is greater than that of malaria and HIV combined – in low resource settings, poor maternal health and poor neonatal care can lead to as many as two in ten children experiencing some degree of D/deafness, from slight to profound; we’ve seen this in Pakistan, Jordan and Iraq. There is clearly much to do especially as in many places, a diagnosis of D/deafness leads to abuse, abandonment and, in some cases, death…

And so evidencing our impact is essential as, within the construct of our new, soon to be released, five year strategy, we look to demonstrate proof of concept which is led by D/deaf children and young people – by the ‘Kidz Board’ we will be establishing this year – and which consolidates our position as the global leader for the protection and safeguarding of D/deaf children. Through our work and with our valuable partners, in 2018, we will never, ever, allow a D/deaf child or young person to be left behind…’

Effecting Change – Ensuring Access to Justice

Our work in supporting access to criminal justice provision continues apace. In Jamaica, South Africa and Rwanda, we’re working with a range of civil society and criminal justice partners to ensure D/deaf children and young people are able to access criminal justice support when they experience stigma, abuse and discrimination. Support that will empower them to say ‘No!’ to abuse and to, quite simply, live safely and without fear…

We’re doing this through a multi-sectoral approach which appraises D/deaf children of their right to live free from abuse and exploitation; resources parents to embrace, communicate with and protect their D/deaf child; develops, implements and quality assures D/deaf aware and accessible criminal justice capabilities for responding to the consequence of abuse when things go wrong… This including the design, test and refinement of integrated clinical, social welfare and criminal justice pathways, which respond to the needs of D/deaf victims and survivors of abuse. Whether that abuse be physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect and whether the need is to disclose, access police support or secure sanctuary from violence…

A key driver for DeafKidz International is the need to address the endemic violence we see against D/deaf girls and young women. We’re doing this through creating attitudinal, systematic and procedural change…

Attitudinal – empowering D/deaf girls and young women to say ‘No More!’ No more intimidation, violence, sexual abuse, forced marriage, honour killings and more…

Systematic – getting protection and safeguarding agencies to see that their structures and systems need to be inclusive to the needs of D/deaf girls and young women; that clinical, social welfare and criminal justice pathways for victims and survivors of abuse need to be accessible…

Procedural – ensuring that established processes for responding to the disclosure of abuse are inclusive and that any subsequent actions – arrest and detention of the perpetrator – are sensitive to the protection needs of the D/deaf girl or young women concerned; mitigating any risk of secondary or further abuse…

None of this work is easy, but were committed to the long haul and to engineering change that is, both, evidenced and enduring.

In pursuit of the 2030 Agenda and Goal 16.2… We’re on it.

Building Upon Success – Positioning for Growth

An envelope with 'Child Kidnapping' written on itWe’re entering a new phase at DeafKidz International as we consolidate on the growth of the last 36 months and ready ourselves to undertake some substantive and demanding work. Work that sees DeafKidz International, a D/deaf led organisation, partnering with a range of key humanitarian, development and global health practitioners such as Islamic Relief Worldwide, War Child UK and Save the Children UK.

Building upon the success of our 3 year Advancing DeafKidz Jamaica! programme, we’re delighted to be partnering with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in pioneering an all-new initiative aimed at addressing the outrage of Gender Based Violence (GBV) against D/deaf girls and young women.

Based in London, Laureus is a global movement that celebrates the power of sport. It combines Laureus Sport for Good, the Laureus World Sports Academy and Ambassadors Programme and the Laureus World Sports Awards to form a unique organisation that uses the inspirational power of sport as a force for good. Laureus was founded by Richemont and Daimler and continues to be supported by them along with Mercedes-Benz, IWC Schaffhausen, Allianz and other partners. Suffice to say, we’re delighted to be in such august company and we look forward to a long and progressive partnership that sees D/deaf girls in Jamaica able to say ‘No!’ to GBV and, over time, the wider Laureus movement responsive and inclusive to the communication needs of D/deaf children and young people.

On other matters and in progressing our core child protection agenda, we’ve partnered with the Geneva based Oak Foundation to develop, test and cascade a range of child protection and safeguarding resources. Aimed at D/deaf children and young people themselves, these resources will be uniquely child led and child centred. To be developed in South Africa and Jamaica, they will see the DeafKidz International team work with a number of D/deaf children to ensure the media, language and content within the toolkits is appropriate to their needs. Similarly, we will work with a number of professionals to ensure that he content within their respective toolkits is also relevant and appropriate to the settings and contexts within which they work. This is a 36-month programme and one that sees the Oak Foundation investing in DeafKidz International’s governance, operating systems and human resource capabilities. This is a significant investment and one that will position DeafKidz International for measured, stable, growth. All of which will enable a robust, resilient and funded organisation that can deliver both results and impact. One that will ensure, quite simply, that no D/deaf child or young person will be left behind.

Ensuring Access to Family Planning Services

As a member of the UKSRHRN Group, DeafKidz International supports and is committed to the work of the FP2020 agenda. A global initiative that works with governments, civil society, multilateral organizations, donors, the private sector, and the research and development community to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020. Working on ascertained rates of D/deafness in low resource settings, that’s 1.8 million D/deaf women and girls. A sizable population that is hard to reach and which the SRHR community struggles to engage. We’re working with a range of partners to ensure D/deaf girls and women are able to exercise their rights to access sexual reproductive health provision in the communication mode of choice. We’re doing this through a multi-disciplinary construct that includes D/deaf awareness activity, support with accessible and inclusive programming, the design of SRHR toolkits and more.

The FP2020 initiative is based on the principle that all women, no matter where they live, should have access to lifesaving contraceptives. Achieving the FP2020 goal is a critical milestone to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights by 2030, as laid out in Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5. FP2020 is in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

To this end and coinciding with the 2017 FP Summit, DeafKidz International has contributed to and is signatory to the summit statement below. We will continue to, ceaselessly, ensure that D/deaf girls and young women are able to access family planning services. That no D/deaf girl or young woman is left behind;

Click here to read

Early Intervention – Maximising Potentials

In both Jamaica and Pakistan we’re working to institute Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programmes… Training existing healthcare workers such as Lady Health Visitors and Community Midwives to undertake simple screening tests for D/deafness. If D/deafness is suspected then we’ll onward refer to a dedicated ear & hearing care capability – whose workforce, systems and infrastructure, we will have trained and developed, where confirmatory assessments are undertaken – including OAE & ABR tests, or audiograms for older children – and then a specific Care Plan for the newborn, infant or child concerned determined. This is likely to be a multi-disciplinary package of support comprising hearing aids, speech and language therapy, sign language and other communication skills. For the parents of D/deaf children, advice on communication and parenting skills so that they can bond and communicate with their child, thereby reducing the risk of abandonment and neglect. If there any specific ENT complications that need addressing, then we will refer the child to a tertiary hospital for the care they require.

All of this support is afforded within a safeguarding framework which sees all stakeholders – healthcare workers, clinicians, parents and wider family members, plus the children themselves – receive child protection, D/deaf awareness and communication skills support. This to ensure that ALL D/deaf children and young people are able to reduce their vulnerability to harm and to stay safe.

Through developing this approach, we’re working to demonstrate that DeafKidz International’s approach is both cost effective and sustainable; that through using existing human resources and infrastructures we’re keeping costs down but maximising healthcare worker skillsets and capabilities. Furthermore, that through engaging Ministerial decision makers, we’re able to realise long term sustainability as EHDI practice becomes incorporated into national health care plans and delivered as a public health ‘standard’… This enabling D/deaf children to maximise the hearing they have and to, ultimately, fulfil and realise their potentials. As you’d expect, underpinning all of this work, is the collation of data with which to evidence impact, inform learning and shape future practice. Empirical data – quantitative and qualitative – that helps us to design community and participative services for the long term which precipitate systematic, procedural and attitudinal change… And if that means changing the law, as we’re seeking to do in Pakistan so that EHDI becomes enshrined in statute, then we’ll do it. Because as an organisation of D/deaf people that’s what we’re about… Ensuring D/deaf children and young people have access to the ear & hearing care provision, in the communication mode of choice, that they require.

Advancing DeafKidz Iraq

In partnership with the Iraqi Red Crescent we’re working to assess the safeguarding, communication, health, ear and hearing care needs of D/deaf Children and Young People in Baghdad City. Mounted from Amman in Jordan, our intervention will see a multi-disciplinary team comprising safeguarding, audiology and ENT expertise deployed, with IRC logistical support, to assess the needs of both Iraqi and Syrian D/deaf children. As a result of the ongoing crisis in Iraq, there are more than 250,000 Syrian refugees displaced into Iraq. This is a sizable population and one that places a burden on already stretched health resources.

This work draws reference from our early stage assessments of the needs of D/deaf children and young people in the refugee camps on the Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi borders. Here D/deaf children are present but the agencies in situ – UNHCR, Handicap International etc – lack the specific expertise to respond to, particularly, their safeguarding, communication, ear & hearing care needs. Indeed, UNHCR readily admits that they are unable to provide qualified sign language interpreter support or clinical ENT support in the Zaatari camp where there are more than 40,000 children. Given that rates of D/deafness are high in rural Syria and Iraqi, there is likely to be a sizable D/deaf cohort within this population; a population whose needs we must work to address.

We’re adding value to this work from the learning that’s occurring as a result of our partnership with Save the Children UK. Here, in association with the Royal Dutch Kentalis, we’ve worked to prepare methodologies and materials for the assessment work we’re conducting in Greece. There’s much to be done and working in Iraq will not be easy – we have to rebuild an ear & hearing care infrastructure that has been devastated by both conflict and neglect. But with the support of the Iraqi Red Crescent and the wider Red Crescent movement we’ll do it…

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