|A boy who is blind plays a tactile game in a classroom in South Africa.|
The underlying premise of Perkins International's work is the empowerment of local agencies for lasting impact. We partner with individuals in multiple roles, such as teachers, parents, school administrators, university faculty, professionals, and advocates. We work to influence policy by collaborating with government officials from ministries of health and education at the local, regional and national levels. By cultivating partnerships at multiple levels of society we are able to maximize the reach of training opportunities, extend programs for children and families into multiple regions and leverage resources for expansion.
Perkins International is organized around the principle of supporting partner organizations in developing independent, self-sustaining services. We do this by assisting our partners in leveraging resources, including local funds. Our approach has proven to be sustainable because it involves building the capacity of our partner organizations to maintain and expand services to children.
Education, Disability Rights and International Development
Perkins is the largest U. S.-based international non-governmental organization serving children who are deafblind or blind with additional disabilities. The needs of this population are commonly overlooked within education initiatives. These children are marginalized or left out of the majority of international development programs. This marginalization is exacerbated as people with disabilities are more likely to be poor because of disabling attitudes and prejudices and because of structural inequalities that prevent access to education and employment. Furthermore, the added burden of caring for children with multiple disabilities prevents parents from earning income. The economic implications for these individuals and their families ripple through volatile economies.
|A teacher helps a student who is blind learn independence in Sri Lanka.|
Experience has shown us that when people with multiple disabilities have the opportunity to receive quality education, the necessary training to obtain meaningful employment and a supportive community structure, they are able to reach their greatest potential. Organizations involved in making this change, such as Perkins and other international nongovernmental organizations, have a role in ensuring that the focus on these children is not overlooked in education and development initiatives. Perkins, for instance, works with partner agencies to respond to global initiatives such as Education for All, Millennium Development Goals, and Vision 2020. We collaborate with government officials to incorporate the needs of children with multiple impairments into education, health and disability policies. We also use international development efforts as opportunities to widen discussions in subjects such as education, gender, human rights, economic development, and community building to include people with multiple impairments.
Our programs provide direct services to children and families, train teachers and staff, prepare leaders, develop university courses, support advocacy initiatives and strengthen our partners' resource capacity.
While we tailor each individual project to communities, these core elements build on one another to form a comprehensive international program. As we expand, we remain attentive to the local context and modify programs as appropriate with our partners.
Perkins International is committed to assisting our partners in securing the resources necessary to continue and expand their programs. We work with our partners to foster and promote local and state contributions and the eventual independence of programs in which we are partners. We also work with our partners to help define for government officials the importance of programs for children with multiple disabilities. This process has been remarkably successful. Over the years, many governments have begun supporting pilot programs, schools and programs.
A World of Possibilities
Together, our efforts and initiatives form a cohesive international program. While fostering new partnerships in new communities, Perkins continues to ensure services are sustainable. Perkins and our partners also strategize about more effective ways to meet the needs of children who are deafblind or blind with additional disabilities.
We invite you to read about our programs throughout the world and learn about the great possibilities being created—our partners' continued dedication to transforming not only the lives of children with multiple disabilities, but also their families and communities.