A story and history of Dbl

Deafblind International:
The World Association
Promoting Services for
Deafblind People
ADBN Conference,
Lund Sweden
November 2012
What is DbI
Founded over 30 years ago, Deafblind International
(DbI) is the world association promoting services for
deafblind people.
DbI brings together professionals, researchers,
families, deafblind people and administrators to
raise awareness of the unique disability of
Central to the work is to support the development
of services to enable a good quality of life for
deafblind children and adults of all ages.
Early History of DbI
The roots of the organization go back to the 1950s, with
collaboration, mostly by mail, among educators from
various international organizations and schools, including:
Condover Hall School for the Blind near Shrewsbury, UK, the
School for the Blind in Hannover Germany, the Institute for
Defectology in Moscow USSR, St. Michielsgestel Institute for
the Deaf in The Netherlands, Perkins Schools for the Blind in
the USA and several schools located in the Nordic countries.
In 1962 this informal group first met for its first formal
conference titled “Teaching Deaf-Blind Children”. Forty-one
people attended this first conference, hosted by Condover
Hall School. Attendees were from the UK, USA, USSR, Italy,
Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland
and Turkey.
Early History of DbI
Four subsequent conferences or seminars were organized to assist these
educators and professionals to discuss common methodologies for the
education of children born during the rubella pandemic of the 1960’s:
• Denmark (1965) – hosted by the State Institute for the Deaf, Kalundborg
• The Netherlands (1968) – hosted by St. Michielsgestel Institute for the
• The USA (1971) – hosted by Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown,
• The UK (1974) – hosted by Condover Hall School for the Blind
These early conferences/seminars were organised under the aegis of the
International Council for the Education of the Visually Handicapped (later
changed to ICEVI) which had created a special interest section for
professionals interested in deafblindness education.
Early History of DbI
It was during the 6th formal conference that this group decided
to form their own organization.
The International Association for the Education of the Deafblind
(IAEDB) was officially born in 1976 during the conference held at
North Rocks Central School for Blind Children (near Sydney),
Australia. Keith Watkins from Australia became its first Chairman
and John McInnes from Canada became Vice Chairman.
The aims of the early organization were clearly defined: 1)
promote the education of the deaf-blind throughout the world
and 2) promote world deaf-blind conferences.
Organization and Early Activities
IAEDB started out in 1976 with 42 founding members from 10 countries. By 1986 it
had grown to 197 members representing 24 countries.
The Executive structure included a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary Treasurer and
International Newsletter Editor.
Each country, with members, appointed one to sit as a Member of the Executive
Coordinators / Regional Officers were established around the world to assist with the
dissemination of information about deaf-blind education. The following individuals
were designated as Regional officers, as reported in a magazine in 1988:
Oceania – Mrs. Heather Hewitt (Australia)
Central and South America – Mrs. N.T. Louriero (Brazil)
Scandinavia – Jes Kryger (Denmark)
Asia – Ms. Baroz Vasha (India)
Africa - Ms. G. Sperber (Kenya)
Europe – Miss L. De Leuw (Netherlands)
North America – Mrs. R. Wallenstein (USA)
Organization and Early Activities
A Secretariat was appointed to help manage the affairs of the
organization. Rodney Clark from Sense UK became the first
Secretary of IAEDB.
Rodney Clark
The IAEDB Newsletter was published beginning in 1977.
It was renamed in 1988 as Deaf-Blind Education –
The Journal of the International Association of the
Education of the Deaf-Blind.
Organizing World and European Conferences continued
to be IAEDB’s major focus through the next two decades.
Towards Organizational Change
By the late 1980’s, it was becoming evident that rapid changes were happening in the
deafblind field. While deafblind education continued to be important, service delivery to the
full spectrum of people with deafblindness rose up on the priority lists of the growing list of
Parents were wishing a greater voice in the organization as were deafblind people.
Research initiatives were taking place in various Universities.
Various specialists were looking for the means to collaborate with each other to develop
curricula, explore theories of communication, and discuss and present the latest research.
Programs were expanding worldwide at an accelerating rate and administrators wished to
discuss issues with each other around organizational staffing and budgets etc.
What was becoming urgent then was that IAEDB needed to become a more truly worldwide
organization better able to represent these broader interests including its initial reason for
being – education.
It was agreed that a new constitution to build upon the one from 1991 would better serve
the organization to function better for the future.
Towards Organizational Change
After a number of years of task forces and Strategic Plans, Deafblind International was officially born at
the world meeting in Lisbon Portugal in 1999, prior to the 12th World Conference.
The membership agreed that the name Deafblind International or DbI more accurately represented the
array of issues and services occurring near the beginning of the millennium.
The organizational structure was reinvented, recognizing that it is essentially an organization with a
strong networking sub-structure, in which people of common interests meet and interact more
frequently between conferences.
The new governance structure was established, in which the former IAEDB Executive Committee was
dissolved and a Council (now called Board) and a Management Committee put in its place.
A new fee structure was established for small and large corporate members, resulting in greatly
increased income for the organization. This increased revenue has resulted in a much greater array of
activities and efforts that DbI can support, including a modern, state-of-the-art magazine (DbI Review
and a web page www.deafblindinternational.org).
The stage was now set for common interest groups of individuals to come together to form Networks.
Deafblind International in 2012
Like all organizations, DbI (formerly IAEDB) established a set of guiding
principles necessary to formally permit the organization to establish its
structure, governance and implement its activities. This guiding principles are
set out in the constitution.
The Constitution
• DbI and its former name IAEDB has worked under a formal constitution
since its initial document was produced in 1991.
• While becoming DbI in 1999, a revised constitution was developed to
address the mandate of the new organization, it’s new structure and
governance. Through amendments, revisions were made (and continued
be made) to update this “living document”.
• The most recent update to the constitution occurred in 2009 when DbI
was formally registered as a legal association in the Netherlands.
Deafblind International in 2012
• The objects stated in the current iteration of the constitution show little
change from its earlier versions:
– To promote the proper provision of services to deafblind people through international
– This broad objective is to be achieved by:
• promoting and improving the acknowledgement and awareness of deafblindness
• supporting the rights of deafblind people and promoting their opportunities
• stimulating the development of networks for the cooperation of professionals
• improving opportunities for deafblind people for education and widespread
participation in society
• promoting, on a worldwide scale, communication among deafblind people, experts
and organisations
• promoting the provision of services to deafblind people to allow them to live their
lives independently; hence improving their quality of life
• improving the quality of provision of services to deafblind people by promoting
research, development, training and policies leading to good practice
Deafblind International in 2012
As well as the objects, the constitution establishes the framework for the rest of
its activities as follows:
The organization’s management structure includes an active Board (formerly
called the Council) which guides its direction, and a Management Committee
which takes care of the day to day activities of the organization. All members of
the Management Committee and Council serve on a volunteer basis.
The Board is responsible for advising and managing the organization and meets
once a year. It comprises representatives from the large and small corporate
members and networks. It considers and discusses all matters related to the
strategic direction and operation of DbI in pursuing its objectives. The Board is
comprised of no more than 35 members.
A Management Committee is appointed by the Board to undertake executive
action. It comprises the elected officers - the President and two Vice Presidents;
and the appointed officers – the Secretary, Treasurer, Information Officer and the
Immediate Past President. The Board also has the opportunity to appoint
additional members to ManCom.
Presidents of IAEDB/DbI 1976-2012
Keith Watkins
John McInnes
Jacques Souriau
Marjaana Suosalmi
Australia (1976 – 1987)
Canada (1987-1991)
France (1991-1995)
Finland (1995-1999)
Michael Collins
William Green
Gillian Morbey
USA (1999-2003)
Italy (2003-2011)
UK (2011-present)
Deafblind International in 2012
Deafblind International in 2012
Deafblind International in 2012
Deafblind International in 2012
DbI is a member driven organization. There are three types of memberships:
Corporate, individual and library memberships.
• Corporate memberships are classified as Large, Small and Mini.
– Organizations paying fees of 3000 to 5000 Euros annually are eligible
for large corporate membership status.
– Organizations paying fees of 300 to 1500 Euros annually are eligible for
small corporate membership status.
– Those organizations qualifying under the World Bank designation are
eligible for mini corporate membership status for annual fees of 100250 Euros.
• Individual memberships are available for 100 Euros for a 4 year period.
• Library memberships are available for 50 Euros annually.
Large Corporates: There are currently 12 large corporate
members representing: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France,
Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, UK (2) and USA.
Small Corporates: There are currently 48 small corporate
members representing: Argentina (2); Australia (5); Austria;
Brazil; Canada (5); China Hong Kong; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark
(5); Finland; Greece; Ireland; Israel; India; New Zealand; Norway
(5); Russia; Singapore; Spain (2); Sweden; Switzerland (2); The
Netherlands (4); UK; USA (2) and Venezuela.
Mini Corporates: There are currently 2 mini corporate members
representing: Nepal and Malawi.
Individual Memberships: There are currently 85 individual
members representing: Australia (2); Austria; Belgium; Canada
(17); Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic (3); Denmark; Finland (3);
France (3); Germany (2);Guatemala (2); Hungary; India; Ireland;
Italy (2); Japan (4); Malta; Netherlands (4); Norway (3); Portugal;
Russia; Sweden; Switzerland; USA (14); UK (13).
Library Memberships: There are currently 5 library memberships
representing: Australia, Belgium, South Africa, UK, USA
Nomination Process
• Every four years the DbI Board initiates a Nomination Process
for the election of the President, Vice President(s) and
members of the Board.
• The Board consists of the President, two Vice Presidents, the
immediate Past President and no more than 35 other
members, of which no more than 15 are representatives of
large corporate members. The remaining members (20) are
elected as representatives from small corporate members (15)
and representatives from DbI Networks (5).
Other DbI Activities
Organizing World and European Conferences has been a significant initiative since the beginning of the
organization. Since the Conference in Australia in 1976, IAEDB/DbI has organized the following conferences:
1980 – Hannover, Germany
1984 – New York, USA
1987 – Poitiers, France
1991 – Orebro, Sweden
1995 – Cordoba, Argentina
1999 – Lisbon, Portugal
Bruges, Belgium
Warwick, UK
Potsdam, Germany
Madrid, Spain
Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands
Presov, Slovakia
Senigallia, Italy
Lille, France
2003 – Mississauga, Canada
2007 – Perth, Australia
2011 – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Other DbI Activities
DbI Networks
Networks are international groups of individual members and/or organisations,
schools and institutions admitted by the Board from at least three countries that
are mutually connected by language, culture, geographic location or objects, and
subject to their terms of reference approved by the Board.
The current Networks are:
• Acquired Deafblindness Network (ADbN)
• CHARGE Network
• Communication Network
• Employment Network
• European Deafblind Network (EDbN)
• Latin American Network
• Rubella Network
• Siblings Network
• Social-Haptic Communication Network
• Tactile Communication Network
• Usher Study Group
Each network determines its own level of activity.
Networks are required to provide reports to the Board and reports are printed in DbI Review.
Many of the Networks meet during the DbI World and European Conferences.
Three Networks, ADbN, Communications and Usher Study Group have organized special
conferences/seminars over the years.
ADbN Conferences:
1994 - Hilversum, The Netherlands
1996 - Poitiers, France
1998 - Ancona, Italy
2002 - Zurich Switzerland
2004 - Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
2006 - Groningen, The Netherlands
2008 - Bergen, Norway
2010 - Aalborg, Denmark
2012 - Lund, Sweden
Communication Network Seminars/Conferences
1993 - Poitiers, France
1996 - Paris (Suresnes), France
1998 - Paris (Suresnes), France
1999 - Paris (Suresnes), France
2000 - Vilnius, Lithuania
2001 - Paris, France
2002 - Gothenborg, Sweden
2003 - Dronninglund, Denmark (NUD)
2006 - Oslo, Norway
2008 - Leeds, UK
2009 - Senigallia, Italy
2010 - Paris (Suresnes), France
Other Network Conferences
Usher Study Group
• This working group has been holding meetings since 1985.
• Recent organized Conferences/Seminars are as follows:
Pre Conference – 13th DbI, Mississauga, Canada
Pre Conference – 14th DbI ,Perth, Australia
Pre Conference – 8th ADbN, Aalborg, Denmark
Tactile Communications
• 2011 Pre Conference – 15th DbI, Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Secretariat
• The organization has had a working secretariat since the early 1980’s.
• The prime purpose of the Secretariat is to ensure the smooth running of the
organization. The Secretary, who is appointed to the Management Committee,
oversees all functions of the secretariat and is accountable to the Board.
A partial list of secretariat functions includes:
• Providing efficient and effective services to DbI Members
• Coordinating the membership
• Coordinating meetings of the Board, the Management Committee and the
Annual General Meeting
• Overseeing the process for determining the locations of DbI World and
Regional Conferences including being the liaison between DbI and the host
• Coordinating the nomination process for the election of officers and the Board
• Liaison with members of the Board and the Management Committee
The following have served in the Secretary function for IAEDB/DbI:
T. Grunsell (Australia)
Rodney Clark (Sense, UK)
Richard Hawkes (Sense International, UK)
Sumitra Mishra (Sense International India, Ahmedabad )
Elvira Edwards (Senses Foundation, Perth Australia)
The Information Function
• The role of information has been recognized a key function
within IAEDB/DbI since the beginning of the organization.
• The Information Officer, who is appointed to the Management
Committee, oversees all functions of the information program
and is accountable to the Board. The IO is responsible for
ensuring access to a range of high quality information for both
members and others about deafblindness and services
available internationally.
A partial list of the Information Officer functions includes:
• As editor, coordinates all aspects of the production of
two editions of DbI Review annually
• Ensures the DbI website is current and reflects the
activities of DbI
• Provides information about deafblindness and services
available upon request
• Ensures DbI related information is available at conferences and workshops
The following have served in the Information Officer (or editor) role over
the years for IAEDB/DbI:
• W. Zinger (Australia)
• Paul Ennals (Sense UK)
• Malcolm Matthews (Sense UK)
• Eileen Boothroyd (Sense UK)
• Stan Munroe (CDBA Canada)
The Treasurer
• The Treasurer, who is appointed to the Management Committee, oversees
all aspects of the organizations finances and is accountable to the Board.
A partial list of the treasurer’s function includes:
• Producing annual financial statements and budgets
• Makes recommendations to the Board about the annual state of the
The following have served in the Treasurer role over the years for
• T. Grunsell (Australia)
• Rodney Clark (Sense, UK)
• Ton Visser (Royal Dutch Kentalis, Netherlands)
• Ton Groot Zwaaftink (Royal Dutch Kentalis, Netherlands)
Other Major Initiatives
Strategic Planning
• For the past decade there have been continuing
efforts at developing a Strategic Plan to guide DbI
towards achieving the objects set down in the
Constitution. Like the constitution, the strategic plan
is a “living document”.
DbI Strategic Plan 2012 - 2015
Our Vision
• To be the international association which promotes the
awareness of deafblindness as a unique disability and to
influence for appropriate services for deafblind people
around the world.
Our Purpose
• To support professionals (such as educators,
administrators, researchers, medical specialists etc.)
families and deafblind people to raise awareness of
deafblindness. Central to our work is to support the
development of services to enable a good quality of life
for deafblind children and adults of all ages.
DbI Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015
Goals and Objectives
• DbI will enhance organisational capacity to meet the needs of
deafblind people:
– To establish high quality management and administrative
practices through The Board and the Management Committee
(ManCom) with support from members
– To develop a strong diverse inclusive international membership
– To establish a constitution that is democratic and representative
– To be an efficient and cost effective organization
DbI Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015
• Influence the development of services for the benefit of
deafblind people and their families around the world
– To ensure the international recognition of deafblindness as a unique
– To influence the development of services to improve the lives of
people who are deafblind
– To raise the awareness of DbI as an international organization
advocating for people who are deafblind within the international
structure of the UN/WHO/UNESCO and in collaboration with such
international partners as WFDB, ICEVI and WBU
DbI Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015
• DbI will encourage improvements in practice and creation of
new knowledge by facilitating improved communication and
– To promote, establish and support regional and specialized focus area
international networks
– To support the growing information needs of the membership and the
international community of professionals and deafblind people
– To promote a system of Conferences to ensure they are accessible to
the international field of deafblindness
– To ensure networks are seen by members as a core activity of DbI
Collaborations with other
International Organizations
Currently DbI has Memoranda of Agreement with the World
Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) and the International
Council for the Education of the Visually Impaired (ICEVI).
A representative of these organizations is given observer status
to attend meetings of the DbI Board.

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