Multiple Disabilities

World Federation of the DeafBlind 9th Helen Keller World Conference, Kampala, Uganda, Oct 22-27, 2009

Posted on 25 August 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, Call for Papers, Deaf, Events and Conferences, Human Rights, Multiple Disabilities, Opportunities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Note that this includes a call for abstracts for proposed presentations and workshops, the deadline for which is February 1, 2009.


World Federation of the DeafBlind, WFDB 9th Helen Keller World Conference and WFDB 3rd General Assembly

Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala, Uganda, October 22 – 27, 2009.

Hosting organisation: The National Association of DeafBlind people Uganda, NADBU

Dates and programme:

Arrival Thursday October 22 ,2009 with a welcome reception in the evening

Friday, October 23: HKWC conference plenary sessions

Saturday, October 24: HKWC a day full of workshops 16 different topics

Sunday October 25: HKWC plenary morning session collecting results from workshops and in the afternoon a cultural event/ excursion

October 26 and 27 General Assembly of WFDB until late afternoon

Venue: Imperial Royale hotel in Kampala Uganda, a totally new five star hotel with excellent facilities for our conference.

The hotel has 270 rooms and the Imperial Group has two other hotels nearby from where they will provide free transport to the Conference hotel.

Hotel prices

A single room at Imperial Royale will cost 120 USD per night and a double room 177 USD including breakfast, taxes and free wireless internet access.

Grand Imperial hotel Single room 109 USD double/ twin room 144 USD including breakfast and taxes

Hotel Equatoria single room 86 USD double / twin room 132 USD including breakfast and taxes

Conference fee
The conference fee will be 200 euros per person for deafblind participants, 200 euros per person for interpreters/ assistants and 250 Euros per person for all others which will include welcome reception, conference material, 5 days lunches, 5 days coffee/ tea breaks, mineral water during the conference, but not excursions, conference dinner or any other dinner ,airport transfer and transport to conference, visa, vaccination and other personal expenses.

Day guests 50 USD including lunch, coffee/tea breaks and water

Sponsored participants

WFDB will sponsor a limited number of participants from developing countries.

Maximum one deafblind participant with interpreter/ assistant per country.

If you need sponsorship, please advice WFDB as soon as possible indicating travel cost from your country to Kampala, Uganda.

Conference theme:

CRPD, changing the lives of persons with deafblindness

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD is a human rights instrument. How can we use this instrument to ensure that the rights of persons with deafblindness are respected and enforced.

Plenary sessions and workshops will cover the following themes:

What is CRPD and what does it mean for persons with deafblindness?

How can organisations work towards ratification of CRPD in their country ?

When a country has ratified CRPD, what changes will happen?

How can deafblind organisations and individuals use CRPD and its provisions, covering the specific areas:

A. Recognition of deafblindness as a unique disability

B. Recognition of the needs of persons with deafblindness

C. Recognition of modes and means of communication including sign languages

D. Recognition as a Person before the law, legal capacity, dignity and integrity of the person

E. The right to job and livelihood, income generation

F. Support systems, how can we use CRPD to get services of interpreters, personal assistants and other support persons

G. Access to information and communication technology, including hearing aids, vision aids and communication devices

H. Peer support, forming support groups, self help groups and own organisations of persons with deafblindness

I. Women with deafblindness, their special situation and needs

J. International cooperation , North- south partnerships, south – south partnerships,

K. Rehabilitation. Community based rehabilitation and other models of rehabilitation

L. How can persons with deafblindness be included in the educational system? What does inclusive education mean for persons with deafblindness?

M. Access to health care. Prevention and treatment of HIV-Aids.

N. Partnerships with other DPOs , NGOs, government,local government, private enterprise, service providers, other partners.

O. Raising Awareness of the needs and skills of persons with deafblindness

P. Participation of persons with deafblindness in cultural life.

Call for abstracts:

Abstracts of plenary presentations or workshops covering one of these areas, can be sent to the WFDB office before February 1, 2009 see address below.

WFDB contact address:

Lex Grandia, Snehvidevej 13, DK 9400 Noerresundby , Denmark
phone: +45 98 19 20 99
fax: +45 98 19 20 57

Lex Grandia recently circulated this notice on the IDA_CRPD_Forum email discussion group. If interested in this conference, then please contact Lex Grandia directly at the contact information provided above, NOT We Can Do. Thank you.

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Other Resources at We Can Do
Catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.

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JOB POST: Director, Perkins International Program, in Watertown, Massachusetts, USA

Posted on 11 May 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, Children, Deaf, Education, Jobs & Internships, Multiple Disabilities, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Perkins School for the Blind
Job Description

Job Title: Director
Program: Perkins International Program
Supervisor: President
Location: Watertown Campus and Frequent Traveling

The following statements describe the principal duties to be performed. It is not intended to be a complete description of all the requirements of the position.


Provides leadership, collegial supervision and oversight of programs and services for children who are deafblind or blind with multiple disabilities and their families. Coordinate the national and the international work of the Hilton/Perkins Program and other international initiatives. Serve as a member of the Perkins senior management team.

The mission of Perkins International is to improve the quality of life for children who are blind, deafblind or blind with multiple disabilities throughout the world. We collaborate with hundreds of local partners to provide direct services to children and their families, create innovative education programs, expand local and regional expertise, augment leadership skills in teachers and professionals, and promote Braille literacy. We also advocate for policies and programs that impact the lives of children with visual and other disabilities at local, national and international levels. (


  • Regularly visit international program partners to support regional staff in meeting program goals and objectives.
  • Work with government and non-government organizations to develop programs and services, to improve and expand the quantity and quality of services for children who are deafblind or blind with multiple disabilities.
  • Recruit, supervise and manage the work of all national and international program staff, including the oversight of work assignments.
  • Supervise the activities of the Educational Leadership Program.
  • Supervise the activities of on campus projects including research library and information services, DBLINK, and other projects as appropriate to meet national objectives of program.
  • In collaboration with program staff, identify program priorities and additional funding needs for project development. Liaison between program staff and Trust Office for new and ongoing project development and identifying and securing financial and material support with existing and new supporters and donors.
  • Communicate effectively with all staff, trainers and partners.
  • Provide leadership and collegial supervision to insure that all program goals and objectives are being addressed and evaluated, including but not limited to:
  • Working with local personnel to assess the future needs of all Hilton/Perkins and other international projects in the region and arrange for appropriate training, consultation and technical support.
  • Working with colleges, universities and other entities internationally to maintain and establish formal training programs of pre-service training for teachers of the target population.
  • Arranging for the production, translation and dissemination of appropriate literature for parents and professionals in print and on-line formats.
  • Supporting parents and agencies to establish improved services to parents and family members, including the establishment of parent organizations.
  • Supporting the content, logistics and other arrangements for trainings provided by the Program
  • Prepare and manage an annual program budget. Oversee the financial resources allocated to projects. Work with regional staff to draft grant agreements to sub-grantees, and define and monitor a reporting system for each project.
  • Prepare regular narrative reports on activities for inclusion in the Program’s reports to donors.
  • Function as liaison between Perkins management team and international and national program staff. Work collaboratively with personnel on the campus, to plan jointly for training and experiences provided to international visitors to Perkins School for the Blind.
  • Function as the focal point for planning, communication and collaboration between the Perkins International Program and other national and international non-profit organizations, multi-lateral organizations and key governmental agencies to further enhance program’s mission.
  • Coordinate the work with all other Perkins offices including the on-campus programs, the Business Office, Howe Press, Trust office, Communications Office and other Perkins departments.
  • Provide oversight of program office staff and support service operations to ensure facilitation of program objectives.
  • Represent Perkins International at international events which include international development, education, and disability conferences.

To perform the job successfully, an individual should demonstrate the following competencies:

Problem Solving – Identifies and resolves problems in a timely manner; Gathers and analyzes information skillfully; Develops alternative solutions. Able to deal with frequent change, delays, or unexpected events

Oral and Written Communication – Speaks and writes clearly and persuasively, listens and gets clarification; responds well to questions. Knowledge of technology for communicating.

Leadership – Effectively influences actions and opinions. Inspires and motivates others to perform well.

Diversity – Demonstrates knowledge of EEO policy; Shows respect and sensitivity for cultural differences; promotes a harassment-free environment.

Ethics – Treats people with respect; Keeps commitments. Works with integrity and ethically.

Organizational Support – Follows policies and procedures; Completes administrative tasks correctly and on time.

Judgment – Displays willingness to make decisions; Exhibits sound and accurate judgment. Includes appropriate people in decision-making process and delegates appropriately.

Professionalism – Approaches others in a tactful manner; Reacts well under pressure; Treats others with respect and consideration regardless of their status or position; Accepts responsibility for own actions; Maintains a positive attitude regarding required duties and changes in routines and assignments.

Quality – Demonstrates accuracy and thoroughness; Looks for ways to improve and promote quality; Applies feedback to improve performance.


Master’s Degree in Special Education with a preference on education of children who are deafblind, or with multiple disabilities or relevant work experience.

A minimum of 7-10 years of experience in a position of increasing management experience and responsibility for consultation to and training of other teachers and personnel. Preference will be given to work in the fields of blindness, deafblindess or multiple disabilities with international work experience.

Extensive knowledge of educational techniques for children who are deafblind and/or blind with additional disabilities.

Understand and appreciate the cultural diversity of the programs and areas in with which Perkins works and the implications for program support and development.


Ability to travel independently and frequently to international destinations.


Prior experience in international work as a trainer of teachers within the specific field of blind or deafblind education.

Candidates with Masters in deafblind or multi-handicap education, or the equivalent job experience in working with this same population

Prior experience, whether paid or voluntary, in working for other international governmental or non-governmental organizations.

Perkins School for the Blind is an Affirmative Action Employer. Candidates from diverse background are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more information contact Charles Pimlott at 617-972-7235 or send resumes to Human Resources, Perkins School for the Blind, 175 North Beacon Street, Watertown, MA 02472 or email

May 2008

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News at Your Fingertips

Posted on 30 December 2007. Filed under: autism, Blind, Children, Cognitive Impairments, Commonwealth Nations, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), Cross-Disability, Deaf, Democratic Participation, East Asia and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific Region, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Education, Employment, Families, Funding, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Inclusion, Introduction to "We Can Do", Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, News, Psychiatric Disabilities, Rehabilitation, Reports, Resources, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, technology, Women |

I have now added a page to the top navigation bar, News, that consolidates all the news and press releases posted at We Can Do since this blog began.

I mostly cribbed this new page from the work I did recently for the We Can Do Retrospective: The First 100 Posts (and Then Some). However, if you compare the two, you will see that there are more items listed under the “News” page in the top navigation bar than there are in the Retrospective post. That’s because, when I wrote the Retrospective post, I made a rule with myself that each We Can Do post would be listed only once, even if it arguably belonged in more than one category. Some of the “news” items reported new resources that might still be helpful for readers months or years from now. So I listed those items under “Resources” in the Retrospective post instead of news. But for the “News” page in the navigation bar, I made sure to include anything that was tagged as “news” when it was first posted.

I will try to keep the “News” page up to date. You will notice that it already includes one news item that has gone up since the Retrospective post.

Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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We Can Do Retrospective: The First 100 Posts (and Then Some)

Posted on 22 December 2007. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Announcements, Arts, autism, Blind, Call for Papers, Case Studies, Children, Cognitive Impairments, Commonwealth Nations, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), Cross-Disability, Deaf, Democratic Participation, Disability Studies, Disaster Planning & Mitigation, East Asia and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific Region, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Education, Education and Training Opportunities, Employment, Events and Conferences, Families, Fellowships & Scholarships, Funding, Guest Blogger, Health, HIV/AIDS, Housing, Human Rights, Immigration, Inclusion, Interpreting, Introduction to "We Can Do", Jobs & Internships, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, News, Opinion, Opportunities, Policy & Legislation, Poverty, Psychiatric Disabilities, Rehabilitation, Remittances, Reports, Resources, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, technology, Violence, Volunteer Opportunities, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Skip introduction, go straight to the Table of Contents

If you’re new to We Can Do, what interesting information, news, or resources might you have overlooked from the past few months? Although some older items may no longer be interesting, others may still be relevant and helpful a year or three from now. This post can help guide you through the first 100-plus posts at this blog. You can click from the table of contents below to any section of this page that interests you–and then another click on “table of contents” can take you back to the contents, or “top of this page” takes you back to this introduction.

Top of this page

Table of Contents

Table of Contents; Top of this page

About We Can Do

To learn more about the purpose of We Can Do, see About We Can Do. For more on its guiding philosophy, go to Why We Can Do.

Thinking about submitting your own written materials, job posts, conference announcements, or resources to We Can Do? Check the Wish list for written materials and resources.

Want to receive an alert in email when a new post goes up at We Can Do? You can Subscribe to We Can Do for free.

I changed the organization and appearance of We Can Do in early October to its present format.

Table of Contents; Top of this page

The Five Most Popular We Can Do posts

The five listed here are the ones that have attracted the most “page views” since We Can Do began in late July. You may notice that not all of these are featured in the 10 “most popular posts” listed in the right-hand navigation bar. That’s because the navigation bar only lists posts that have received a lot of traffic very recently (I think within the past few days; its done automatically by wordpress so I’m not sure how it works). But here I’m listing the five that have the highest TOTAL page views.

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The Five Most Under-Rated We Can Do posts

Are these posts really under-rated? You’ll have to read them and decide for yourself. But in choosing these five, I used two criteria: 1. These are posts that have received fewer than 100 visitors–sometimes far fewer. 2. These are posts that I think could be helpful or interesting to readers and maybe deserve more attention than they have gotten. These are in no particular order:

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Finding Practical Resources and Case Studies or Helpful Organizations

Finding organizations; Resources for inclusive development; Human rights resources; Case studies; Other helpful resources

Finding organizations
Mainstream international development agencies sometimes say that they don’t know how to find people with disabilities, or their representative organizations, in the developing countries where they work. Reviewing the July post entitled Finding Local Disability Organizations may help point you in the right direction. Also see Disability Organizations in Afghanistan, Asia, Kenya, Uganda.

Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) sometimes aren’t sure where to find mainstream development organizations and resources that might be willing to collaborate with them.

There is an international network of organizations for families of people with Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome.

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Resources for Inclusive Development
Both disability advocates and mainstream development organizations want to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind when countries and organizations fight poverty or improve public health, education, water, and other services. But it can be a challenge to figure out how to make projects and government policies more inclusive. The following resources can help:

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Resources on the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
By now, you may be aware that a global movement is taking place to ratify the international disability rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Many relevant resources are now being produced in relation to the CRPD, some of which have been posted or featured here at We Can Do:

  • Read the CRPD “translated” into plain English.
  • UNICEF has developed a child-friendly version of the CRPD to help children understand disability rights
  • Disabled People International offers two toolkits on ratifying and implementing the CRPD for disability advocates who want to help ensure that all disabled people have their human rights recognized.
  • A handbook on disability rights targeted at parliamentarians can help parliamentarians, people who work in close contact with government agencies, and disability advocates in general, better understand the CRPD.
  • The United Nations’ new web site, UN Enable, is one of the best, and most official, places to find information on the CRPD.
  • Handicap International has produced its own Teaching Kit on the CRPD.
  • The International Disability Equality Agency (IDEA) has issued Equalize It! A Manifesto for Disability Equality in Development Cooperation that expresses their position on how to ensure disability equality in the international development field.
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    Case Studies
    Reviewing case studies of projects implemented elsewhere can be a valuable source of ideas that could help you figure out how to run or implement your own projects. I would love to post many more best-practice and failed-practice case studies than I have available right now. If you think you have something worth sharing, please check my Wish List of Written Materials and Resource and contact me at ashettle [at]

    But for now, here are two case studies:

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    Other Helpful Resources

    Top of Finding practical resources; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Finding Useful Sources of Information and Research

    Finding academic research, papers, resources, or statistics
    Looking for academic research and academic papers; resources that can be used by people working in the field; or sources of statistics? Some of the following posts may be helpful:

    Information on people with disabilities
    Interested in learning about the living conditions of people with disabilities in specific nations, or in specific thematic areas? Some of the following may be of interest:

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Funding Sources

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Academic Papers

    We Can Do has published, or re-published, academic papers, or linked to same, on a range of subjects, including:

    Table of Contents; Top of this page


    September 2007; October 2007; November 2007; Early December 2007

    September 2007
    At one point in September, the international disability community prematurely thought we might be On the Verge of Making History by ratifying the disability rights community.

    Top of News; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    October 2007

    Top of News; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    November 2007

    Top of News; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Early December 2007

    Top of News; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Opinion Pieces

    So far, the opinion pieces here are all by me. But I would like for We Can Do to be host to an active exchange of ideas and differing perspectives. If you have a strong opinion about something, please consider submitting it. Yes, that includes opinions that disagree with mine! Consult the Wish list for written materials and resources for ideas of the kinds of topics I’m trying to cover at We Can Do.

    Meanwhile, here are a few of my own opinion pieces:

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Call for Papers (for Conferences, Journals, Other)

    You might be just now starting your academic career as an undergraduate or graduate student. Or perhaps you have been doing quantitative or qualitative research, or writing policy analysis, or case studies, or social analysis, for years. Either way, if you’re looking for opportunities to present, publish, or otherwise disseminate your papers or run a workshop, then check out these upcoming or ongoing opportunities:

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    International Conferences and Events

    Looking for a conference to attend? Here are a few upcoming events:
    January 2008; February 2008; March 2008; April 2008; May 2008; August 2008; September 2008; November 2008

    January 2008
    The South Asian Conference on Autism is being held in New Delhi, India in January 2008.

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    February 2008

  • The Disabilities Initiatives in Development Seminar, also in Bangladesh also in February 2008.
  • One for all: Persons with Disabilities Initiative in Development, again in Bangladesh in February 2008.
  • The International Centre for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, UK is holding a conference on sign language research in the UK in February 2008.
  • A conference on the deaf community, sign languages, social issues, civil rights, and creativity will be held on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, USA.
  • The Techshare India 2008 Conference on accessibility will be held in New Delhi, India, in February 2008.
  • Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    March 2008
    The 8th annual meeting of the Gulf Disability Society will meet in United Arab Emirates in March 2008.

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    April 2008

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    May 2008

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    August 2008

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    September 2008

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    November 2008
    The Association on Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)’s International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development will be held in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2008. A call for proposals is open until January 28, 2008.

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Jobs, Internships, Volunteer Opportunities

    We Can Do will probably never be a comprehensive job-board. Serious job, internship, or volunteer placement hunters will want to explore other means of finding opportunities. For example, jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities in the international field generally, or in the disability field generally, can sometimes be found at But I do occasionally happen to come across a job announcement. Here are a few that may still be open to applications:

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    Education and Training Opportunities

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    Missed Opportunities

    Missed call for papers; Missed training opportunities; Missed job, internship, and volunteer opportunities; Missed events and conferences

    Some of the material I post at We Can Do is time-sensitive material. That means the conferences announced here have come and gone; job posts have been filled; and deadlines are over. So, if it’s too late for you to do anything about any of the following announcements, then why bother listing them? First, some conference organizers issue compilations of papers and presentations or other interesting materials after their event is over. If a topic interests you, it may be worth communicating with event organizers to see if any follow-up publications are available. Second, organizations that offer one conference, job opportunity, call for papers, etc., may offer something similar in the future. Many conferences, for example, meet every one, two, three, or four years. Monitoring, joining, or communicating with organizations of interest to you could help ensure that you learn about the next opportunity in time to plan for it.

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Missed Call for Papers
    The German Journal for Disability and Development called for papers on art and disabilities to be submitted by the end of November 2007.

    Also browse through the listing of upcoming conferences and missed conferences.

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Missed Training Opportunities

    In October 2007, the International Labour Organisation had a training course for professionals from developing countries.

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Missed Jobs, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities
    Remember that it is too late to apply for these specific opportunities. These are listed here in case you want to check out the sponsoring organizations for future opportunities like these:

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Missed Event and Conference Opportunities

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    What’s Next for We Can Do?

    I am not yet satisfied with We Can Do. I still see many gaps that I want to repair. I want to find, and post, more materials of a pragmatic nature. By which I mean, material that people in the field can put to immediate use in improving the lives of disabled people in developing countries. If you think you can help me locate helpful materials, please review my Wish list for written materials and resources and contact me.

    I also want to reach more development professionals at mainstream development organizations and more employees and volunteers at international disability organizations. And I want to reach more small DPOs and individual advocates in more developing countries. The knowledge shared at We Can Do cannot help until it is brought to people with disabilities living in poverty in developing countries. That “final mile” can only be bridged by readers like YOU.

    If you want to help, I hope you will consider telling your colleagues and contacts about We Can Do. If you run a web site or a blog, please consider linking to We Can Do at If you have the skills, the time, and the commitment to launch a We Can Do mirror site translation into some other language, please talk to me (leave a comment or email me at ashettle [at] And please do feel free to print out the more helpful We Can Do posts to share with people you know in developing countries who do not have easy access to the Internet.

    For those of you who like numbers: We Can Do had 285 page views in July; 851 in August; 1305 in September; 2936 in October; 4862 in November; and more than 5100 in the first three weeks of December. And who is responsible for making these numbers happen? Why—you, of course! So, thank you for visiting We Can Do.

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    NEWS: Human Rights Abuses of Disabled Children, Adults in Serbia

    Posted on 17 November 2007. Filed under: Blind, Children, Cognitive Impairments, Cross-Disability, Deaf, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Human Rights, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, News, Psychiatric Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |


    Embargoed Until November 14th, 2007

    Contact: Laurie Ahern – 202.361.1402
    Eric Rosenthal – 202.361.9195


    Belgrade, Serbia – November 14, 2007 – Following a four year investigation, Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) released its findings today in a report detailing the human rights abuses perpetrated against children and adults in Serbia with disabilities, forced to live out their lives in institutions. Torment not Treatment: Serbia’s Segregation and Abuse of Children and Adults with Disabilities describes children and adults tied to beds or never allowed to leave their cribs – some for years at a time. In addition, filthy conditions, contagious diseases, lack of medical care, rehabilitation and judicial oversight renders placement in a Serbian institution life threatening for both children and adults. The children and adults had a range of disabilities including Downs Syndrome, deafness, visual impairment, autism, and mobility impairments.

    “These are Serbia’s most vulnerable citizens. Thousands confined to institutions are subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and abuse. Children and adults tied down and restrained over a lifetime is dangerous and painful treatment tantamount to torture – clear violations of the European Convention on Human Rights,” said Attorney Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of MDRI and an expert on human rights law.

    “We call on the government of Serbia to stop these abuses immediately and to respect the human rights of all people with disabilities,” concluded Rosenthal.

    For more information visit, where you can download a copy of the full report in PDF format, videos, and photos. The video footage does not have captions available. As a deaf person, I found that if you read the executive summary of the report and look at some of the photos before viewing the video then most of the images in the video speak for themselves. I’m guessing that there is probably no audio description for blind people; as a sighted deaf person, I’m afraid I’m not in a position to judge how much sense the video will make without it. Readers who are deaf or blind–or who support their interests–may wish to contact MDRI to encourage them to make their video materials available with both captions and audio description.

    MDRI is an international human rights and advocacy organization dedicated to the full participation in society of people with mental disabilities worldwide. We Can Do published an earlier press release from MDRI reporting on similar human rights abuses in Argentina; the Argentina report, entitled Ruined Lives, can still be downloaded from the front page of the MDRI web site (scroll down the page). More reports about human rights abuses of people with disabilities in Turkey, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Kosovo, Russia, and Hungary can be downloaded in PDF format from

    Most of the text of this blog post comes from the MDRI press release, which can be retrieved at

    Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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    Please Submit YOUR Materials to We Can Do

    Posted on 7 November 2007. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Announcements, Arts, Blind, Call for Papers, Case Studies, Children, Cognitive Impairments, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), Cross-Disability, Deaf, Disability Studies, Disaster Planning & Mitigation, East Asia Pacific Region, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Education, Employment, Events and Conferences, Families, Funding, Guest Blogger, HIV/AIDS, Housing, Human Rights, Immigration, Interpreting, Introduction to "We Can Do", Jobs & Internships, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, News, Opinion, Opportunities, Policy & Legislation, Poverty, Psychiatric Disabilities, Rehabilitation, Remittances, Resources, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Uncategorized, Violence, Volunteer Opportunities, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Currently, We Can Do gathers news; announcements; academic papers; case studies; opinion pieces; information about resources; and other materials of interest to disabled advocates and international development professionals from a wide range of sources. In addition to these, from time to time, I write fresh content of my own.

    I also hope to be able to depend heavily on YOU–We Can Do readers–for some of the best, most interesting, and helpful materials. Examples of materials that would interest me include, but are not limited to: “best practice” case studies; “failed practice” case studies; checklists; fundraising advice or resources; other pragmatic resources; academic papers or reports; student projects; press releases; opinion pieces; announcements; and more. For more detail, please click on “Wish List for Written Materials and Resources” at the top navigation bar.

    If you can assist with my current top priority, or with any of the other items in my “wish list”, then PLEASE GET IN TOUCH. Email me at ashettle at patriot dot net or leave a short note in the comment area below and I’ll contact you.

    Current Top Priority for We Can Do

    Are you from Croatia, Cuba, Gabon, Hungary, India, Jamaica, or Panama? If so, were you involved with the movement to persuade your government to sign and ratify the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)? If so PLEASE CONTACT ME (ashettle at patriot dot net, or leave a comment below with your email address).

    I want to interview people involved with these movements (via email) so I can write a story describing what strategies you used; any barriers you faced along the way; how you overcame these barriers; any mistakes you made, how you corrected them, and how other countries can avoid them; what activities or techniques you think were the most critical to your success; and so forth. Sharing this type of information at We Can Do–and elsewhere–could be immensely helpful to disability movements in other countries that are working toward the same goals.

    My primary written language is English, pero puedo escribir y leer, mas o menos, en espanol tambien. (Lo siento para la mala ortografia–no se como crear acentos en WordPress.) Once we are in contact, I will probably have many questions for you–and follow up questions after that!

    Thank you for helping make We Can Do become a strong, good-quality resource for people with disabilities in developing countries and the people who are working hard to meet their needs.

    Edited to Add: I do not post my full email address because any recognizable email address posted on the web then immediately becomes the target of “spam harvesters” and starts receiving tons of unwanted, unsolicited commercial emails. But I spelled it out above and spell it out again here. But this time I’m amplifying it because I realize that not all people have learned how to parse spelled out email addresses:

    My username is: ashettle

    Every email address has an @ at sign @ between the user name and the domain name, thus ashettle@

    My email domain is

    Put it all together and you have my email address.

    Or if that is still too confusing–or if it’s just easier for you–then feel free to leave a note below (with your email address in the area provided for it) and I’ll get in touch.

    Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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    CONFERENCE: Augmentative and Alternative Communication

    Posted on 15 October 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Cognitive Impairments, Events and Conferences, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Most of the text for this announcement is taken from the web site for the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC).

    Certain types of disabilities, such as deafness, speech impairment, cerebral palsy, autism, or auditory processing disorders can affect the way a person communicates. Certain technologies and strategies can enable people with these or other disabilities to communicate with each other and the wider world. These technologies and strategies are collectively referred to as “augmentative and alternative communication.”

    “Leading the way” is the theme of ISAAC’s 13th biennial meeting, which will be held in Montréal, Canada in August 2008. ISAAC and its members have been leaders in AAC around the world for almost 25 years! ISAAC officially began in 1983 with a small group of individuals and has grown into an organization that is recognized internationally for the expertise, dedication, and creativity of its members.

    We have much to celebrate in 2008, ISAAC’s 25th anniversary. The field of AAC has changed enormously in the last 25 years, and will continue to evolve in the future. Technological advances and new perspectives on human communication have shaped the evolution of AAC. Individuals who use AAC for their daily communication have increasingly taken on leadership roles in many different ways. Examples of leadership will be showcased as part of the 2008 conference program.Papers, presentations, and discussions of research projects, clinical and educational concerns, and issues of interest to individuals who use AAC systems will round out the program.

    The conference committees are preparing an exceptional event! In addition to the exciting main conference program, there will be pre-conference workshops on current topics in AAC, and the research symposium following the main conference will be a must for AAC researchers. Montréal is the perfect site for the 2008 conference. A city with an interesting history and a bright future, Montréal is a lively place to visit, especially in the summertime. There will be opportunities to take advantage of all Montréal has to offer!

    We are looking forward to welcoming ISAAC to Montréal in 2008!
    See you there!

    Your conference co-chairs,
    Ann Sutton and Jeff Riley

    Pre-conference workshops will be held August 2 and 3, 2008. The main conference will be August 4 to 7. A research symposium will be held August 8 and 9. A reduced registration fee is available for individuals who use augmentative or alternative communication systems, students, and individuals from developing countries. However, the conference is not able to provide financial assistance.

    Please note that, at this time, ISAAC chapters all seem to be located in industrialized countries. We Can Do is unable to determine the extent to which workshop presentations would be sensitized to the needs and challenges of people using augmentative or alternative communication methods in developing countries. Those who are interested in the conference should explore their web site at Remaining concerns or questions should be directed to the conference organizers at:

    ISAAC 2008 Conference Secretariat – JPdL
    1555 Peel, Suite 500
    Montréal (Québec) H3A 3L8, Canada

    Tel: +1 (514) 287-1070
    Fax: +1 (514) 287-1248

    If you have been to We Can Do before then you may have noticed that this blog has a new appearance and structure. How do you like it? Do you find it easier, or harder, to navigate and find the information you’re looking for? Any other feedback on how to improve the We Can Do blog in general? Whether you’re a new-comer or repeat visitor, please share your thoughts in the comments area at the post where I describe We Can Do’s new presentation or email me at ashettle at patriot dot net.

    Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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    CASE STUDY: Early Intervention for Blind Children

    Posted on 20 September 2007. Filed under: Blind, Case Studies, Children, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Multiple Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

    The following case study is written by Irina Germanova Sumarokova, director of Nizhniy Novgorod Regional Charity of Parents of Visually Impaired “Perspektiva.”

    Establish a model of early intervention center for providing permanent medical, social psychological and pedagogic services for families with blind or visually impaired children in Nizhniy Novgorod

    Irina Germanovna Sumarokova
    Nizhniy Novgorod Regional Charity of Parents of Visually Impaired “Perspektiva”
    Nizhniy Novgorod
    28 M.Pokrovskaya St
    7 8312 333402
    Email: irasu at sandy dot ru
    (The above email address should use the @ at sign in place of the word “at,” and an actual dot . in place of the word “dot”, all spelled as one word.)

    Raising a blind of visually impaired preschool child now days is a big challenge. Because of limited sensor system and lack of information about how things happen in the world, blind and visually impaired children have special needs caused by physical and psychological development, and process of social psychological adjustment to now day’s life. From the birth blind or visually impaired child needs special care aimed to form compensatory mechanism and attitude towards the world. If these problems are successfully solved in preschool ages blind and visually impaired children better integrate in community, have better private and social life, better social and psychological well-being, also for this children it is easier to get good education and profession.

    Now days the number of blind and visually impaired children is increasingly growing. The situation is worsened by fact, that last few years as a result of medical successes in nursing of premature newborn children a number of multi-disabled children with blindness increased too.

    In spite of increasing number of these children in most of Russian cities there are no preschool institutions for blind children. There are institutions that work with children with amblyopic and strabismus. Absence of Systematic approach to preschool education of blind and visually impaired children exclude children of this category from preschool education process. Because of this now blind children are raised isolated by parents who do not know ways and perspectives of development of such children. As a result of incompetent pedagogic influence accrue strong developmental lag (physical and psychological) compared to their sighted peers that badly influences their educational process and farther lives of these children.

    The worst situation is with multi-disabled children. According to “Children’s rights declaration each child regardless of disability has a right to education in conformity with his abilities and needs. But special educational institutions cannot fully meet these children’s needs. Multi-disabled children need to have more influence than just blind children. Because of all reasons above establishing an affective system of medical, social, psychological help for families with blind, visually impaired and multi-disabled children is very important for Russia.

    Russian and foreign experience shows that the most effective model of this system is center of early intervention, where psychologists and teachers are working in close contact with parents. In European countries and in the US gained positive experience of work of such centers. This experience shows that rehabilitation work done in preschool ages enables them late to integrate in society and allows to decrease the difference in physical and psychological development of blind and visually impaired children from other children in preschool ages.

    In Russia there is Municipal early intervention center in St. Petersburg. Parents of blind children and multi-disabled children get medical, social, psychological and pedagogic help there. Unfortunately current economic conditions do not allow local government in others Russian districts to give funds for such organization. In this situation the idea of establishing early intervention centers in big cities of Russia on the basis of NGOs becomes significant.

    In Nizhniy Novgorod the early intervention center was established on the basis of Nizhniy Novgorod society of parents of visually impaired and blind children «perspektiva» on November 4 in 2003. It happened in process of activities in project «Developing and inventing a model of early intervention center for blind and visually impaired children» that was implemented by Perspektiva in partnership with Saratov regional organization of All-Russian society of blind and Blind Babies Foundation (San Francisco) from September 1 2003 to September 31 2004. I would like a few words about this organization.

    Nizhniy Novgorod Regional Charity of Parents of Visually Impaired “Perspekiva” was officially registered on 24 of October 2001. The main aims of its activity are:

    • To develop the appropriate environment for successful social rehabilitation of blind and visually impaired and multi-handicapped preschool children;

    • To promote the ideas of social integration of the visually impaired children in media;

    • The main directions of Perspektiva’s activity are:

    • Creating a database of blind and visually impaired children, and children with multi-disabilities as well;

    • Information support of families, having children with the described problems;

    • Consulting parents on their rights and rehabilitation of their children;

    • Providing the families with tactile books, toys and games;

    • Organizing activities and events, helping to integrate these children into society.

    As organization Perspectiva appeared during the Russian-British project “in contact with a family” financed by CAF implemented by Moscow foundation of parents of blind children, Parents from Nizhniy Novgorod participated in it. Perspectiva is the only organization working with blind babies in Nizhniy Novgorod. Since there are no special educational institution for blind, visually impaired and multi-disabled children in Nizhniy Novgorod the main goal for “Perspektiva” now is to establish a center of social and psychological rehabilitation of blind and visually impaired children (early intervention center). At the end of 2001 organization initiated creation of such center and was supported by city administration of Nizhniy Novgorod. City administration gave “Perspektiva” room for it.

    Center was equipped with materials needed in development of blind and visually impaired children: Trampoline, dry water pool, Tunnel, Furniture for children, Set of apparatuses for children, Floor mats, Montessori special equipment. In Center there are a lot of tactile books, special toys, special adapted table games. The special crawling room was made for working with multidisabled children who cannot walk.

    The main goals of our center – to promote continuous patronage of blind and visually impaired children from the moment of diagnose till they gain satisfying social status. Early intervention center’s activity includes two main aspects: work with parents (mothers, fathers, other family members) and work with children.

    Work with parents include:
    • Legal education aimed to raise awareness of parents about their rights;
    • Teaching skills of competent pedagogic influence of such children;
    • Their social and psychological rehabilitation.

    Work with children is based on generalized innovative Russian and foreign experience in this area. In this center the main activities are:

    Rehabilitation classes with blind and visually impaired children and their parents- Children come for such lessons 1-3 times a week depending on their needs. During these lessons children obtain communication, self-serving, orientation skills, learn to play, develop their movements and motor skills of hands. Preschoolers are preparing for going to school. There are individual and small group lessons. Parents attend these lessons too; there they learn how to develop their blind and visually impaired children.

    Consultations for parents on medical, psychological and pedagogic issues. These consultations were available in the centers, at home and by phone. Some parents of children with insignificant visual impairments that do not lead to disability came to the centers for one-time consultations on determining developmental level of their children and about saving and developing vision. Parents of children with serious disorders usually needed to come to the centers for consultations a lot of times. Such families need permanent psychological and pedagogic assistance. Centers provide this kind of assistance for such parents.

    Teaching parents of blind and visually impaired children skills, needed for competent development of their children, – parents receive educational films and brochures; also seminars for parents are organized. Films are very popular, because parents get visual information that they can use with their children in daily routines. Center started to collect films on early intervention for blind and visually impaired children. With help of Blind Babies Foundation now Nizhniy Novgorod center have 8 films, 3 of them were subtitled wit Russian subtitles. «Perspektiva» made 2 films. Also “Perspektiva” produced 8 brochures for parents. The goal of seminars for parents is to introduce parents of visually impaired children to different methods of developing such children. The programs of seminars are very rich. They include different trainings for parents: creating developing environment for blind child at home, teaching blind children orientation and mobility skills, teaching self-help skills, developing other senses…

    Besides functioning as educators centers started to organize vocational activities for children and their parents. We think that such activities will improve understanding and collaboration among families and will help children to learn practical skills better. For example, every year we organize New Year parties, mother’s day and «birthdays» day when all children get presents.

    Many affords were made in order to improve system of revealing blind and visually impaired infants toddlers and preschoolers and involve their families in the project activities. In order to do this, partners established partnerships with governmental authorities, in particular those working with social security, health and education issues. As a result of this work database on such children was created and it continues to grow.

    To disseminate information about early intervention center «Perspektiva» produced colorful fliers with information about the center. These fliers are distributed to parents of visually impaired children through kindergartens that have special groups for such children, social security departments and medical-social expertise agencies, where parents of children who get official status of disabled get flier with recommendation to apply for help to early intervention centers. Fliers are also disseminated through pediatric ophthalmologists at clinics for children.

    Nizhniy Novgorod center’s activity is based on American experience. Three project staff members went to San Francisco to learn more about experience of Blind Babies Foundation in early intervention work with blind and visually impaired children and their families in order to use this experience in Russia. During that trip we learned experience of American partner in providing early intervention services for families of blind and visually impaired children. Because of diverse program of the trip we could see how American methods of developing blind and visually impaired children work on practice. We were able to see different agencies that provide help and education for such children, to learn a lot about work of Blind Babies Foundation and see how it is organized. Together with unique experience we got a lot of printed materials on early intervention for blind and visually impaired children and multydisabled children and 6 videos for parents with practical information. These materials are translated and used by in Nizhniy Novgorod center’s activities.

    We found very useful work of home counselors, who provide home visits to families of blind and visually impaired children. We think that this experience will be very important for Russian early intervention centers. This method of working will allow us to involve much more families, since not all of the families are able to come to the centers for help. Home counselors also could help to involve families at social risk, now it is very challenging to have a contact with them. Coming back to Russia we discussed this ideas with governmental authorities and this year we got some money for establish the center of home visits of blind and visually impaired babies. In May we are starting this program. It is Wonderful result of our work.

    Establishing early intervention centers on the basis of “Perspektiva” in Nizhniy Novgorod solve a problem of preschool development of blind and visually impaired children. This experience is useful for other regions of Russia and other countries that are developed. It also will allow equal opportunities for blind children at schools, and will be a precondition for inventing the model of inclusive education for blind children in Russia.

    I received a copy of this case study via an email listserv called the Disability Information Dissemination Network, managed by the Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) and sponsored by Sightsavers International. You can subscribe to CSID free email distribution list by sending an email to either or to and putting the word “join” in the subject line.

    Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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    Deaf Children with Additional Disabilities PART ONE

    Posted on 29 July 2007. Filed under: Children, Deaf, Education, Multiple Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , |

    A few years ago, I took a class on deaf children with additional disabilities at Gallaudet University. One project I did for that class was to reach out to some of my contacts in developing countries to gather what information they knew about the challenges experienced by deaf children with additional disabilities, particularly in relation to gaining access to an education.

    The information I gathered is now three years old. I’m sure some details have changed since I conducted this project. But most of this is, unfortunately, still valid at least in its broad strokes. Deaf children in developing countries, with or without additional disabilities, too frequently don’t have access to an education.

    The project I did for class is much too long to post in a single blog entry. Instead, I will be breaking it up into multiple parts, to be posted over the next few months or so.

    Here, I post the introduction, as it was first written three years ago:

    Deaf Children with Additional Disabilities in Developing Countries

    Introduction: How This Project Fits Into the Big Picture

    According to the World Bank, 98 percent of all children with disabilities in developing countries are not in school. About 40 million children with disabilities of primary school age are not receiving an education. This includes children who have only a single disability, for example sighted deaf children without mental retardation, learning disabilities, or mobility impairments. What then of deafblind children? Or deaf children with mental retardation? Or deaf children with any other combination of additional disabilities? (NOTE: The link that I originally provided as a source three years ago seems to be gone or revised now. But the World Bank page on education is at If I’m able to re-locate something more specific later, I’ll come back and edit this paragraph accordingly.)

    It is often difficult to find reliable, documented information on deaf children or adults in developing countries. Finding reliable information on specific sub populations, such as deaf children with additional disabilities, is even more difficult. This knowledge does exist–but in bits and pieces, locked away inside the heads of hundreds of people around the world who have worked directly with, or at least visited and observed, programs for deaf children in developing countries. I wanted to gather together some of these little pieces of information into one place, even if only in an informal fashion.

    Finding the Information
    This project began, primarily, as an informal survey of people I already knew via email who either live and work in developing countries or who live in developed countries but who have traveled extensively. Many of my initial contacts were not able to assist within the time frame available. Some may not have seen my email message at all. People in developed countries who work in the international field travel extensively and may be away from email contact for weeks or months at a time, while people in developing countries, for various reasons that I will not elaborate upon here, often have unreliable email access and may also go weeks at a time without being able to check email. Other contacts simply did not have the time to reply. Those who are actively working with deaf communities in developing countries often consider their work to be tantamount to a “calling” and may have little time to devote to any task that does not directly benefit the local deaf community. Also, people in developing countries are more likely to have two or more jobs simply to survive, and thus still have little or no time for email.

    Nevertheless, some people did reply, either to share information or to suggest further contacts or to point me to resources on the web or elsewhere that might assist. Some of my “second generation” contacts referred me to still more possible contacts. During the past two weeks, I have sent out email messages to about 59 individuals around the world. I also sent email messages to three list servers: one, deafintl , is devoted to deaf people in developing countries; another is for deaf people in or from Africa; and a third is exclusively for women with various disabilities who participated in a recent leadership training program, Women’s Institute for Leadership and Development, that took place in Eugene, Oregon, last fall through the organization Mobility International USA.

    My Sources

    Ultimately, I gathered information from the following sources:

    > More than a dozen individuals sent me partial or complete replies to my questions.
    – Most emails were very brief.
    – However, a few individuals were able to answer follow-up questions.
    – One individual went the extra mile by personally visiting schools in Lahore, Pakistan, in an attempt to gather information.

    > One individual sent me her 43 page masters thesis, written entirely in Spanish, which contained some relevant information. Her thesis is summarized in the section on Argentina.

    > I also consulted some web sites that were recommended to me, but particularly the following:
    Perkins School for the Blind
    Sense International

    It should be noted that, for most countries, I only had one contact or other source of information. Even people who have been active for many years within the deaf community of a given country are not necessarily familiar with all resources available to that community, particularly when it comes to resources that might be available in a different part of the country, or resources outside their professional field, or resources targeted at a sub population within the deaf community in which they have not specialized. The information shared in this document, accordingly, should not be considered complete even in the few cases (e.g., Kenya) where I received responses from more than one person.

    In some places, I included quotes from the people who shared information with me. In all of these cases, the quotes reflect the tone, opinions, attitudes, and sentiments of the person quoted. The inclusion of a given quote does not imply that I necessarily agree or disagree with the person’s position.

    I have organized the information by country. I will put each country in a separate post at this blog over the next few weeks. When I do, I will edit this entry to include a direct link to each post .

    Guest bloggers are welcome to submit essays, announcements, resources, articles, case studies, and opinion pieces of their own to “We Can Do.” I encourage you to first read the Introduction to We Can Do blog.I don’t have a written set of guidelines for guest bloggers–yet. But I’m working on them. In the meantime, if you’re interested, please contact me at ashettle [at] and we can discuss.

    (Replace [at] with the at sign @ and type the email address as one word with no spaces. Sorry to present my email address in such a cumbersome way. I’m trying to prevent my email address from being hijacked by even more spam harvesters than the five million who have already been flooding my email box.)

    Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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