What is deafblindness?
Deafblindness is the combined loss of vision and hearing. This impairment means that people with this condition face difficulties with: communication, mobility, and accessing information.
Only a small percentage of the population are born deafblind and a person with acquired deafblindness will not necessarily have total loss of both sight and hearing. If you are living with a condition that is deteriorating you may be struggling to cope both emotionally and with many aspects of your daily life and need to learn how to use residual sight and hearing to their best advantage.
Deafblindness affects individuals in very different ways and certainly impacts upon every aspect of the person's daily life and their ability to function independently without specialist input support and advice. The combination of both a hearing and sight loss (at any level) for most people can be life changing and may lead to increased frustration, isolation and depression.
What help is available?
- Communicator Guides
Communicator Guides work on a one-to-one basis with the person, acting as a guide and communicator and with their help, deafblind people can live fulfilling lives at home and in the community. Their role is to support the individual to do the things they want to do - not to do things for them. They help ensure communication is clear and that the person is able to move around safely, using the right kind of guiding technique. This might mean supporting someone to travel to the supermarket to do their weekly shop, reading someone's letters to them, helping to set up a medical appointment and accompanying them to the hospital or helping an individual to attend a social group.
Volunteers support people with dual sensory impairments and whilst they are not qualified Communicator Guides, they are trained to provide a lesser level of support in the three main areas described above. They may offer support to an individual by enabling them to do tasks such as shopping, reading correspondence or the newspaper, ensuring they are aware of what is happening in the World around them and supporting them to adapt to new modes of communication.
Due to the uniqueness of deafblindness, each individual may benefit from a very different combination of equipment to support their dual sensory loss.
How do I get help?
Contact the Sensory Impairment Service where a Specialist worker will work with you to identify suitable advice, information, voluntary services, equipment and communication methods, supporting you to promote your independence and wellbeing. The service can also provide specialist rehabilitation workers to help you adapt and learn new skills to help independent mobility and address difficulties experienced in your daily life such as making meals or drinks. They may provide additional equipment on long term loan or advise you on equipment you can purchase. The workers can also provide registration to reflect your deafblindness, helpful in accessing some additional benefits.
The Access Centre
Worcestershire County Council, Adult Services, Access Service PO Box 585, Worcester WR4 4AD
Tel: 01905 768053 Fax:01905768056
Text or SMS 07939572850 (Deaf/ Hard of Hearing only)
The Sensory Impairment service direct
Deafblind UK (opens in a new window) - Deafblind UK is a membership organisation of, and governed by, people who have both a sight and hearing loss
Redditch Association for the Blind (opens in a new window) - It is a local charity offering help to blind and partially sighted people in Redditch, Worcestershire
Sense (opens in a new window) - Sense is a national charity that supports people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs, to enjoy more independent lives
Sight Concern (opens in a new window) - Sight Concern is a local charity supporting blind and partially sighted people to lead independent and fulfilling lives