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CDD is strongly committed to working with persons with disabilities to improve their ability to communicate and engage with others, in order to strengthen their ability to self-advocate. This is based on a belief that only persons with disabilities themselves know what they need but are often unable to express these needs and defend their rights.
At a community level, we focus on building awareness and understanding of disability using a variety of informal communication methods and actively encourage inclusion of persons with disability on local decision making bodies. At the same time, we target persons with disabilities themselves to remove barriers to communication and enhance their skills to enable them to speak out. For example, we have developed a range of Braille and Bangla sign language products to improve communication for those with sight or hearing impairments, and we also train people in leadership and assist in the formation and operation of local self-help groups. Many of these groups and participants go on to form or be involved in Disabled People’s Organisations, advocating for their needs and ensuring that persons with disabilities have a voice.
Development of Braille products
CDD has five Braille printers, making it the largest printer of Braille books in Bangladesh and also the only organisation to have produced Braille educational texts for all primary school subjects. We also produce Braille training publications, novels, menus, brochures and locally-made high quality Braille writing slates.
Bangla Sign language
CDD instigated and developed the Bangla sign language to enable the speech and hearing impaired people of Bangladesh to communicate, given that prior to 2001 there was only a modified form of British, American, Australian and indigenous sign language available. With the active engagement of deaf people and their representative organisations, CDD has now produced a full set of sign language manuals and toolkits and provides training for disability field workers, school-teachers, students, deaf people, family members and care givers.
CDD mobilises people by engaging with and sensitising local communities on the needs, rights and issues facing persons with a disability, using workshops, information leaflets and drama events. We also work with communities to ensure that persons with disabilities are included in local decision making committees. Our strategy is to ensure that the community embraces inclusion in the realisation that it will benefit everyone.
CDD believes that promoting the participation of persons with disabilities in politics is an important approach to empowerment. Decision-making is central to politics, so political participation enables persons affected by issues to be at the centre of decision-making and to influence change. For example, through our partner organisations we have facilitated persons with a disability to take part in local government elections as candidates and voters, and to advocate for standing committees focused on disability issues. Persons with disabilities elected to these roles or represented on committees now have the opportunity to have a more effective voice in political affairs.
Self-help group formation
CDD helps to form and support self-help groups comprised of persons with disabilities who come together to share information and resolve common problems, and also provides leadership training to group convenors. Participating in self-help groups provides participants with mutual support, encourages them to find solutions together and improves confidence and self-esteem.