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Lifeprint Library: "Deaf-Blindness"

Deaf Blindness
By Ashleigh Vorce



          When you think of deaf-blindness you may think of someone who can't hear or see at all. However, It actually refers to a person who has some degree of both vision and hearing loss. The degree of this varies from person to person. Therefore the communication and education options vary, and depend on degree of the loss of both hearing and vision.

          Nation wide, there are about 45,000 to 50,000 people who are deaf-blind. Out of those 45,000 to 50,000 individuals it is said that about 10,000 of those individuals are children under the age of 21. There are laws stating that deaf-blindness is a disability that affects the way they learn and communicate.

          The first person that may come to your mind when you think of deaf-blindness is Helen Keller. Born June 27. 1880, in Tuscumbia, AL, was diagnosed has being deaf-blind after becoming very ill at the age of two. Her mother noticed she couldn't hear when the bell announcing meals rang and Helen didn't budge. She noticed she couldn't see when Helen didn't show a reaction to her mother's hand waving in front of her face.

          Helen Keller learned to communicate with the help of Ann Sullivan, a women who was a recent graduate from Perkins institute for the Blind in Boston. Helen worked with Ann through her childhood and ended up becoming great companions for forty nine years. Helen learned to sign out in the open and into the hands of others. To communicate with Helen, people would have to sign into her hand, and using the sense of touch she could make out what they are saying.

          There are three basic ways one can become deaf-blind. One, being born with it, also known as congenital deaf-blindness. Two, unnatural causes later in life, such as illnesses or accidents, also known as acquired deaf-blindness. The third one is when someone is born with certain genetic conditions that can cause the deaf-blindness to come on slowly throughout someone's lifetime.

          Methods of communication for someone who is affected by deaf-blindness varies, depending on the degree of vision and hearing loss. Most use modified versions of sign language. Those who have little vision prefer to have people sign at chest level and fairly close in distance to them. If you are signing to someone who is deaf-blind and they have very little vision, they find it easier if you wear a color that doesn't blend with your skin. For example if your white wear a dark colored shirt.

          However, some prefer signing in ones hand. This is a modified version of sign language, where, instead of signing outward by the chest, you sign in the hand. This is used so that the sense of touch can be used in means of communications. Another method of communication is  when someone with little vision touches the face and uses the vibrations to make out what speech and what is being said.

          Education and learning can be accomplished through the communication methods stated above and through a method of reading called Braille. This is a system of dots that represent letters and numbers. A deaf-blind or even just the blind use this to read, learn, and now communicate with Braille tablets.

          Being deaf-blind isn't as much of a disability as some may think. Thanks to the many methods of communication and the help of translators and communicators, those who are deaf-blind, blind, or deaf can blend in and learn just like everyone else. Just because someone is deaf-blind, doesn't mean they are any different from everyone else.


Works Cited:

"American Association of the Deaf-Blind." How Do Deaf-Blind People Communicate?
Web. <>.

"Causes of Deafblindness." Home.
Web. <>.

"Causes of Deafblindness." Home.
Web. <>.

"Deaf-Blindness." Deaf-Blindness.
Web. <>.

"Helen Keller Biography." A&E Networks Television.
Web. <>. 



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