It is quite normal that the immediate reaction when talking about deafblindness is bewilderment. The first question is usually, “… but deaf and blind, at the same time?” or any similar reaction. The purpose of the explainer is always to clarify that it is possible to suffer both disabilities. Each one, separately, is already sufficiently impressive, as to think that it is also possible to make them coincide in the same person.
Indeed, yes. There are approximately 86 medical records identified as causing Deafblindness. But there is also the possibility that an accident (domestic, work, traffic, etc.) can result in injuries that diminish the visual or auditory capacity. Finally, with aging and lengthening of life expectancy, the quality of the visual and auditory functions deteriorates until there are cases where the combined loss has a significant impact on the daily life of the people.
Thus, deafness is a sensory impairment that consists in the combined loss of vision and hearing. This is a specific condition and does not consist of the sum of deafness and blindness. It is not a disease, but it can be caused by a number of diseases and / or syndromes.
In this video, Núria gives a brief introduction to the main features of this disability. See how she explains it:
Characteristics of Deafblindness
People with Deafblindness have their own specific characteristics and needs. It can affect people of all ages and no two deafblind people are alike.
95% of the daily information we work with is received through the senses of sight and hearing. That is why the basics such as interpretation of the environment, ability to relate and learning skills are directly affected.
What all people with this disability have in common are three fundamental aspects of daily life:
- Communication, in both ways
- Access to information, to know what’s going on around them, to have information to make their decisions
- Orientation and mobility, that is, everything related to the use of one’s body in relation to the environment
There is a belief that Deafblind people are totally deaf and blind, but really these cases are the exception. Most have either visual or auditory rest, or remnants of both senses. However, these remains are not always usable, since they can become very uncomfortable and may interfere negatively with the perception of the environment.
It is also important to note that, depending on the etiology (medical cause), a large number also have additional disabilities: physical, mental or intellectual disability.
Deafness, depending on their degree and moment of onset, may be a very limiting disability and may involve a significant degree of dependence and loss of autonomy. That is, the impact on a person’s quality of life is very high.
Legal aspects of deafness
Deafblindness is contemplated in Law 27/2007, of October 23, which recognises Spanish sign languages and regulates the means of support for the oral communication of deaf people, with hearing impairment and Deafblind people, with the following ending:
“They are those with a combined impairment of sight and hearing that make it difficult for them to access information, communication and mobility. This disability seriously affects the daily abilities necessary for a minimally autonomous life, requires specialised services, personnel specifically trained for their attention and special methods of communication. “
The group of people with Deafblindness is very heterogeneous, each case is different. Whatever the case, we refer to the broad distribution according to the moment of acquisition of the disability. Traditionally, the group of Deafblind people has been classified into two broad groups: congenital and acquired. Lately one also speaks of a third type, the one related to the aging.
See Type of deafbliness: congenital & acquired