Our history

Sense International was launched in 1993 with a burning desire to share the expertise that Sense UK had built up over 50 years of working with people with deafblindness and their families.

Young man inside a shop preparing some foodRather than planning to run services ourselves however, the goal was to support, train and empower local organisations so that in time, they could carry on this vital work independently.

When our parent organisation Sense began in 1955, very few people knew about deafblindness so we often looked abroad for help and guidance. Gradually our knowledge increased until we decided to repay our debt to the many international organisations that had helped us.

In this section:
1994 | 1997 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2006 | 2007 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017

Buds logo1994

  • Sense International is set up to support the development of services for people with deafblindness in some of the poorest parts of the world
  • We commence work in Latin America in partnership with ONCE, the Spanish Blind Organisation and ULAC, the Latin American Blind Union.


  • Sense International (India) established as an independently registered Indian NGO with local staff and governing council
  • Sense International (Romania) also established at a time when there were no services for, or awareness of deafblindness.


  • SI becomes an independent charity (no. 1076497) with its own board and registered with the Charity Commission and Companies house
  • The Indian Government recognises deafblindness as a disability in its own right
  • First deafblind teacher training course launched in India
  • India hosts the first Asian Deafblind Conference, attended by more than 350 delegates from 27 countries
  • We set up two deafblind units in Bucharest and Cluj.


  • Sense International receives the UK International Development Charity of the Year award
  • First development manager appointed in Latin America, working on the growing and coordination of services in Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Uruguay.


  • Sense International (Romania) was established
  • HRH Princess Royal visits Eminescu Kindergarten in Bucharest to help focus the attention of Romanian people and policy makers on the rights of children with deafblindness.

Logo of a man2002

  • Sense International (Latin America) starts training professionals in Bolivia, Uruguay, and Brazil.


  • Sense International (East Africa) established - covering three countries of East Africa: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania
  • With funding from the Community Fund, Sense International (Latin America) develops an online resource centre and three rehabilitation day centres in Peru, Colombia and Brazil
  • Akhil Paul, Founding Director of Sense International (India) awarded the HSBC Indo British Award.



  • Deafblindness officially recognised as a disability in Romania, and as a unique disability in the 2006 National Policy on Disability in Uganda.


  • Sense International establishes facilities for children with deafblindness in Bangladesh.


  • Sense International (East Africa) identifies over 1,050 people with deafblindness and initiates eight new units for children with deafblindness (five in Tanzania, one in Kenya, and one in Uganda)
  • Sense International (Romania) establishes 15 new units for 135 children in 16 schools
  • Sense International (Peru) reaches over 1,250 teachers through online resources.

Buds logo2010

  • As a result of our campaigning in India, data about deafblind people was collected as part of the 2011 census for the first time
  • Akhil Paul, founding Director, Sense International (India) awarded the coveted Karmaveer Puraskar award in the field of disability
  • Sense International (Romania) celebrated ten years of progress - including 27,000 babies receiving vision and hearing assessments.


  • Gillian Morbey OBE, Chief Executive, Sense and Sense International voted the new President of Deafblind International (DbI).


  • As a result of lobbying by Sense International (Peru) is one of the first countries to introduce legislation inline with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Also disabled people are able to have their sensory disabilities registered in their ID card.


  • Sense International became co-chair of the Bond Disability and Development Group and the Global Campaign for Education
  • In December Sense International provided written evidence to the Department for International Development's first inquiry into disability.


  • Sense International (East Africa) Kenyan country representative Edwin Osundwa came to London to speak to the International Development Select Committee. As a result, the Committee’s report made it crystal clear that the UK can no longer continue to ignore the needs of disabled people in its international aid programmes, and the Government has now launched a disability framework.


  • Sense International held the co-chair of the International Disability and Development Consortium UN Task Group, which ensured that disability was included in the UN’s S ustainable Development Framework.
  • Sense International co-chaired the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) UK Policy Group and finalised a report that evaluated the UK’s provision of education aid for children with disabilities.


  • Recognition of deafblindness as an official disability in its own right in the Indian Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016.
  • There was unprecedented support for our UK Aid Match appeal, Finding Grace, which will enable us to screen babies for deafblindness in Kenya and Uganda and then support them with early intervention services.
  • Sense International (Romania) hosted the ‘Early Intervention for children with Deafblindness or Multi-sensory Impairments Conference’ in Bucharest.


  • The first ever screening and early intervention services for babies in Kenya and Uganda was launched.
  • Sense International extended its work into Nepal.

First published: Monday 19 August 2013
Last updated: Friday 26 January 2018