June 24 Post
What is deaf-blindness? It means that a person so described has a significant visual impairment, and either is legally blind or has a progressive eye condition which will lead to becoming legally blind. The same person also has a significant hearing loss, usually from moderate to profound. Many deaf-blind people wear hearing aids and some choose cochlear implants.
But most people I have become acquainted with who are deaf-blind first have a loss of hearing and must deal with a loss of vision later, from childhood years through middle age. By mid-life, the deaf-blind people I have had the honor of becoming acquainted with have severe vision loss, though many still have some usable vision, with the help of ttechnology.
Most deaf-blind people are a part of Deaf Culture to some extent, as they have become partially or completely deaf before encountering severe vision loss. This means that they speak American Sign Language, often reject cochlear implants, and have more in common with the Deaf Community than with those who are blind and hearing. But each person is different and uses a differing method of communicating. Some speak and understand ASL, by manually tracking the signs spoken by a hearing interpreter or another deaf person. Some deaf-blind people prefer to have an interpreter or a deaf friend sign into their hands, using the manual alphabet called Finger Spelling. Other deaf-blind people communicate by reading in large print or Braille, what someone else has e-mailed or personally typed into a machine. And some have enough hearing that, communication is possible, with help, by using many amplifying devices.
For most people who are deaf-blind, there is a constant readjustment to increasing losses of either hearing, sight, or both. It as difficult! As Helen Keller said, "Blindness isolates you from things, deafness isolates you from people." I think This is why the term Deaf-Blind is written in that order. Though surveys about disability show that more people fear blindness than fear deafness, I think isolation from people is perceived by those of us who Are deaf-blind as the more difficult circumstance with which to deal. Alternative methods must be found to deal with phone calls, conversations in any setting, (with a friend, in a group, in a restaurant, taking a taxi, in a store, at the doctor's office and in any emergency situation you can imagine., as well as with one's hearing, sighted family or religious group.)
Also, skills of blindness such as using a white cane or dog guide when traveling, learning to cook, care for children, garden, clean house, do laundry, and handle money without sight may need to be learned.
Most people picture Helen Keller when they think of someone who is deaf-blind. But she was unusual, in loosing her hearing and sight completely and suddenly, during childhood. Traumatic Brain Injury can cause someone to loose hearing and sight together, but other disabilities may also be present. Some very premature children are deaf-blind and may also have other disabilities.
Why have I picked this subject for a post? Because I am also Deaf-Blind and my hardest struggle is to communicate. My partner was my translator, (people always thought my dear friend was yelling at me when things were only being repeated at a level and cadence I could understand). A friend suggested, after the death of my partner, that I could blog as a means of self-expression, since I now have no one to talk with or to translate for me on a regular basis. It does help! But don't send me advertss for your brand of equipment or miracle cure, ok? I am still the person whose been writing posts for a while and who will Flood you with them when my internet service is restored.
I communicate online with some deaf-blind people whom I admire very much. But I have been afraid to write about being partially deaf. I will pay close attention to screen Out Hassles now.