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Deafblind Awareness Week

Published on 29 June 2022 09:00 AM

In 2022, there are over 450,000 people who are deafblind in the UK.

What it is?

Deaf blindness is the loss of sight and hearing to the point where it impacts your communication, mobility, and ability to access information. Deaf blindness is often also referred to as ‘dual sensory loss’ or ‘dual sensory impairment’.

Deafblind and visually impaired people are amongst the least visible in society.

Many are older and unable to connect with life in their communities without specialist support or adaptations to the way that we operate our public services and businesses.

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Signs of Deaf blindness:

Deaf blindness most commonly affects older adults, although it can affect people of all ages, including babies and young children.

In older people, it may develop gradually and the person themselves may not realise their vision and/or hearing is getting worse at first.

Signs of a problem can include:

  • needing to turn up the volume on the television or radio
  • difficulty following a conversation
  • not hearing noises such as a knock at the door
  • asking others to speak loudly, slowly, and more clearly
  • needing to hold books or newspapers very close, or sitting close to the television
  • difficulty moving around unfamiliar places
  • If someone already has either a hearing or vision problem, it's important to look out for signs that suggest the other sense may be getting worse too.

 

What causes Deaf blindness?

There are many potential causes of deaf blindness. Some babies are born deafblind, but in many cases the hearing and/or vision loss occurs later in life.

 

  • age-related hearing loss
  • Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that affects hearing, vision and balance
  • eye problems associated with increasing age, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and glaucoma
  • diabetic retinopathy – a complication of diabetes where the cells lining the back of the eye are damaged by high blood sugar levels
  • damage to the brain, such as from meningitis, encephalitis, a stroke or severe head injury

 

 

Living with Deaf blindness:

A range of care and support services is available to help deafblind people.

Each deafblind person will have a different level of hearing and sight loss, which means they'll have their own individual care needs.

The general aims of care for a deafblind person are to:

  • preserve and maximise any remaining sight or hearing the person has – this could involve treating underlying conditions like cataracts, wearing glasses or using a hearing aid or implant
  • teach alternative methods of communication – such as hands-on signing or braille
  • help retain or develop as much independence as possible – for example, by training the person to use a long cane, a guide dog or offering a communicator guide

Your local authority should arrange an assessment to determine exactly what care and support is needed.

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Are you deafblind, or do you know someone who is?

Get Help and support today:

Sense is a UK-based charity that provides advice and support for deafblind people. The Sense helpline number is 0300 330 9256 (same number for textphone). Alternatively, you can email Sense: info@sense.org.uk.

Deafblind UK is another national charity that supports deafblind people and those with progressive sight and hearing loss.

You can call Deafblind UK's helpline for information and advice on 0800 132320 or text on 07903 572885. You can also email Deafblind UK: info@deafblind.org.uk.