What You Need to Know About Deaf-Blindness

Updated on June 1, 2018
Tim Truzy info4u profile image

Tim Truzy is a rehabilitation counselor, educator, and former dispatcher from North Carolina.

This bronze bust of Helen Keller resides in the Martha Frank Garden at The Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, NC
This bronze bust of Helen Keller resides in the Martha Frank Garden at The Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, NC | Source

Facts About Deaf-Blindness

Deaf-blindness is a condition which is rare. Depending on the definition, there are nearly 40,000 to 750,000 people impacted by the disorder in America. Many professionals recognize deaf-blindness as a dual-sensory disorder. The disability affects sight and hearing which causes problems for these individuals in socializing, mobility, and communicating. In essence, most routines of daily living become challenging.

There are several causes of deaf-blindness. The disability could be related to a premature delivery, congenital factors, or complication during the early stages of birth. Deaf-blindness could also occur later in life. Injuries and inherited genes can cause an onset of deaf-blindness. Disorders such as Meningitis are also associated with deaf-blindness.

In spite of these difficulties, people who are deaf-blind can achieve in life. As a rehabilitation counselor and while training as a teacher of the visually impaired, I had the opportunity to work with these extraordinary individuals.

Here are some methods they use to interact with others:

How Do People Who are Deaf-Blind Communicate?

  1. Sign Language – The use of this skill varies with Individuals. Often, the use of sign language depends on the use of any vision by the person who is deaf-blind. Some individuals who are deaf-blind may use a tactile sign language skill instead of a visual method.
  2. Speech – Many individuals who are deaf-blind may be able to communicate verbally in a limited manner.
  3. Speech Reading – This is the same as “lip reading.” It depends on the ability to see facial expressions and the movement of the lips.
  4. Tadoma – For this technique, the person who is deaf-blind places a hand on the throat, cheek or lips of the other individual and use the vibrations to help understand what is being said.
  5. Braille is also used by individuals who are deaf-blind to write and read.
  6. Tactile Finger Spelling – To communicate with this technique, the person who is deaf-blind places his/her hand over the hand of the signing person to interpret the finger spelling.

Famous People Who Are Deaf-Blind

  1. The first individual who was deaf-blind and received successful instruction in America was Laura Bridgman (1829-1889).
  2. Obtaining a bachelor degree, Helen Keller (1880-1968) is famously identified with the condition. She was an activist, pushing for reforms to help people with disabilities. Helen Keller was also a published author and conducted lectures. (A picture of her statue is shown.)
  3. Rebecca Alexander is a psychotherapist who resides in New York. She has written a book about living with deaf-blindness and frequently appears on television shows. She was recognized as a “community hero,” and carried the torch for the 1996 Olympic Games. She has two master degrees and was born on February 4, 1979.

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Sources Used

Early Interactions With Children Who Are Deaf-Blind. Retrieved July 4, 2017 from: https://nationaldb.org/library/page/2062.

Frequently Asked Questions About Deaf-Blindness. Retrieved July 4, 2017 from: http://www.aadb.org/FAQ/faq_DeafBlindness.html.

How do Deaf-Blind People Communicate? Retrieved July 4, 2017 from: http://www.aadb.org/factsheets/db_communications.html.

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