WATERTOWN, MA – Perkins India—part of Massachusetts-based Perkins School for
the Blind’s International Program—has increased its support of families of children with multiple disabilities and visual impairment (MDVI) during India’s current COVID-19 emergency.
The Perkins India team is using a combination of remote intervention and outreach programs to help these children and their families access the resources they need to combat the impacts of COVID-19 and continue learning and thriving.
Perkins India has been working with communities across India for more than 30 years, partnering with local experts and organizations to help children with MDVI access their human right to education.
However, when COVID-19 cases reached record levels earlier in 2021 and regional lockdowns halted inhome visits, Perkins India shifted to remote intervention services to prevent children with MDVI from losing critical progress.
More than 130 families have benefitted from at-home intervention and physical therapy sessions, in which Perkins experts use phone or video calls to guide caregivers through activities and exercises remotely. Beyond these remote intervention services, Perkins India is staffing a call center that families can contact to speak directly with education and disability experts.
“This is a deeply personal crisis for us,” said Supriya Das, program coordinator for Perkins India. “Through our continuous work here in India, we have fostered a close connection with the families and communities we serve. Throughout this crisis, Perkins India remains steadfast in ensuring children with MDVI continue to learn and thrive and we are eager to return to in-person work with children and families when we can.”
To date, Perkins India has contacted more than 150 families whose children have been screened for MDVI to share information and guidance about COVID-19 precautions, including tutorials on assisted handwashing techniques for individuals with motor disabilities. The program has also distributed more than 75 ‘Dignity Kits’ to families in remote villages who have had trouble accessing food, soap, masks, and other necessities.
In its first 100 years, Perkins International has trained educators who have reached children in 92 countries, through its Educational Leadership Program. Perkins
International is expanding its work in certain countries – such as India, which has as many as 1 million children with visual impairment and additional disabilities – to improve screening and assessment, early intervention programs, school-age education and family support services. The newest initiative in India is in Uttar Pradesh and focuses on finding children in rural communities with multiple disabilities and getting them into school. Since inception in 2019, the program has screened 1,173 children with disabilities and enrolled 118 children with MDVI in education programs.