What Is It Like to Be Deaf-Blind?

There is unique community: deaf-blind people. Deaf-blind people may be part of the deaf and hard of hearing community, and at the same time they may be part of the blind community. Their needs are unique, as they can neither see nor hear. It is especially difficult for children who are growing up deaf-blind, as they have a harder time accessing language.

My Own Brush with Deaf-Blindness

I had two brushes with blindness and deaf-blindness in my life.
The first brush with blindness came when I was a child. One summer, I attended a summer school/day camp for deaf children. As an experiment, the administrators of that program had the deaf children get together with the blind children. Things did not work out the way the camp's administrators hoped. The second brush, this time my first brush with deaf-blindness, came in college, at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. I befriended a fellow teenager who could see, but soon learned she was losing her vision.

It was not easy for her to cope with losing her vision in addition to already being deaf. I watched her struggle to cope emotionally, and to learn new daily living skills. About.com readers who have experienced this struggle can share their experience on the Coping with Deaf-Blindness page.

Causes of Deaf-Blindness

Deaf-blindness has multiple causes. One of the best known causes is the condition Usher Syndrome.
At least one family has started a foundation, Hear See Hope, to support work to find a cure for Usher Syndrome. In addition, magazine did a profile of a young woman with Usher Syndrome.

Raising Deaf-Blind children

Things have not gotten that much easier with regard to raising deaf-blind children, since the days of Helen Keller.
It was especially difficult for one family that had not one, but three, deaf-blind children to raise at the same time. Deaf-blind children need the help of interveners to learn language and access information, but interveners are expensive.

People with Deaf-Blindness

Helen Keller is the most-recognized name when it comes to Deaf-Blindness. Less known are the stories of Laura Bridgman and Julia Brace.

Awareness of Deaf-Blindness

Every year, the last week in June is Deaf-Blind Awareness Month. Just as with Deaf Awareness Week, this week focuses on increasing awareness of deaf-blindness. An organization for deaf-blind people in the United States, the American Association of the Deaf-Blind, works to increase awareness of deaf-blindness, increase accessibility for deaf-blindness, and to meet the other needs of deaf-blind people.

More on Deaf-Blindness

The blog at About.com Deafness has often posted about deaf-blind topics. Here are some of them:

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