By Cristina Hodgson • 21 November 2019 • 20:52
A STORY OF inspiration and ingenuity.
An illness left Spaniard, Sergio Romero deaf, and with mobility and sensation problems, when he was five years old. To complicate matters more, at 29 the young Spanish man suffered a back injury which left him paraplegic. But, if that wasn’t enough, at 33 after suffering from pneumonia Sergio lost his sight.
Taking his disabilities in his stride, the now 37-year-old has set up a platform to offer the 7,000 Spaniards who live with a similar condition an alternative form of communication.
According to the Spanish newspaper El PAIS, there are around 7,000 deaf-blind people in Spain. It is a very diverse group, and they have very different ways of communicating. However as it’s not a well-known disability, with many differences and degrees to it, people in Spain who are deaf-blind sometimes find themselves very isolated.
This is where Sergio hopes to make a change as Euro Weekly News has discovered. Sergio together with his carer Cristina Álvarez Castellanos, have invented a new sign language, which is available on an online platform to anyone who may find it useful.
As stated to EL PAÍS Sergio said that despite everything he is a “positive person” with a strong character and the illness has only made him stronger “You could say that it has opened my eyes” he joked.
Before meeting Cristina, a carer from the ONCE Foundation for the Care of Persons with Deaf-blindness (FOAPS), Sergio communicated by tracing capital letters on his forehead with his index finger. But it frustrated him as the communication was slow, so then when Cristina started assisting him it occurred to them both that they could adapt the Spanish sign language by transferring the signs to Sergio’s face, shoulders and neck, which is where he has more feeling.
Sergio and Cristina started to create the language – which they have called SERCRI (a combination of both their names) – in 2017. Since then, they have “invented words every day.” According to Cristina they have around 500 words, although Sergio insists it’s closer to 1,000.
Sergio makes it clear than he doesn’t want to “impose” his communication system on anyone, only offer it as an alternative language to those in a similar situation to him.
Sergio has a five-year-old daughter, and currently studies journalism and documentation science.
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