A person with deafblindness has both hearing and vision disabilities. People with these multiple disabilities face major challenges in life and may have varying level of impairments. Some people may be more blind and still be able to hear a little while others may be completely deaf with low vision.
In some people, deafblindness may be present since birth due to genetic defects while in others it can be caused later in life because of accidents or medical issues.
Deafblindness can be caused during birth due to pre mature birth, low birth weight, birth injury, respiratory issues, jaundice, fits, nutrition issues, infections such as meningitis and encephalitis.
Some other causes can be brain damage/trauma, stroke, AIDS, rubella, age factor etc.
In some instances, a person may be born deaf and lose their sight later due to accident or medical issues such as Usher Syndrome, or retinitis pigmentosa. Person may also be born blind and then lose their hearing afterwards.
Deafblindness is a very unique condition which presents our world in a very diverse perspective to someone who can neither see, hear nor speak. As you know that majority of our learning comes from what we see and hear, hence a deafblind child develops a distorted and incomplete perception of the simplest tasks that we take for granted. In the last 22 years, Sense India and its partner organisations in India have reached out to about 78,000 such people in 22 states of India. Akhil S. Paul, Director and Founder member of Sense International India.
Challenges & Communication
Deafblindness creates lot of communication and development issues and requires a different approach to deal with them.
Children with losses in hearing and vision cannot be taught with the same methods and techniques that are used for children who are either deaf or are blind.
They also have mobility challenges as moving around independently is not an easy task without vision and hearing abilities. People with deafblindness use a white cane that has red bands on it.
Depending on the exact condition of the person or severity of impairments, different types of communication methods are used.
“People with deafblindness have a very challenging life but they are some of the most amazing people I gave met. Their abilities, strengths and desire to learn knows no bounds. The various interactions that I have had with people with deafblindness have helped me learn a lot about life. People with this condition are in no way less than others and only seek to be treated with equality and dignity, says Uttam Kumar, Head of Programme at Sense India.
Tactile signing, sign language, manual alphabet, communication aides, interpreters, technology, Braille are some of the methods that can be used to communicate with and educate the children with deafblindness.
In deafblind manual alphabets different letters are spelt out by touching specific areas of the fingertips and palm of the deafblind person.
Early detection and intervention can help the children get the appropriate support and guidance.
Sense International India or Sense India is working for the empowerment of people with deafblindness in the country.
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To get in touch with Sense International India click on link: http://www.senseintindia.org