Deafblind Awareness week is almost over and I hope you're learning new things about the Deafblind community. If you want to read more, check out the #DeafblindAwarenessWeek hashtag on social media.
Now if you have been following my website or know me - you'll know I'm always expressing that Deafblind people can be independent and live fulfilling lives on their own.
But, there are still barriers to our independence and I'll list a few:
Lack of Support Service Providers
Support Service Providers (SSPs) are trained individuals that accompany the Deafblind person and be their eyes and ears to access their environments and make informed decisions. SSPs provide them with visual and environmental information, sighted guide services, and communication accessibility.
Understand that SSPs do not do anything FOR the Deafblind person, for example - in the grocery store, the Deafblind client wants to get apples, the SSP will guide them to the apples, and the client holds up an apple and the SSP describes it (no bruises, spots, etc.) and the client bags it. SSPs are not Interpreters either - they can interpret small verbal exchanges but not for important events such as medical visits, signing a rental lease, and the like - a professional interpreter would need to be hired.
As I said in the title, there is a lack of SSPs available nationwide. A study done in 2006 estimates there are about 1.2 million people that have combined vision and hearing losses. I couldn't find any current data but in 2006 only 28% of states ahd any level of SSP services. I'm sure this number is larger (Oklahoma just passed a SSP funding law), but I doubt it's enough to cover a million Deafblind clients.
Now, SSPs are not exclusive to Deafblind people, they can be used for Senior Citizens who cannot drive anymore due to sight and hearing loss, Blind hearing clients can benefit from SSPs to guide them around unfamiliar places as well as get audio information on their environment.
So, the solution:
Barriers to Health Services
Many Deaflbind have limited access to quality Healthcare for a variety of reasons. This is a very long list so I'm going to bullet point them:
The solution? Provide better sensitivity training throughout the hospital and medical service community. Provide a Medical School course in the various disabilities and their preferred communication and interaction methods. Have more ASL interpreters and tactile interpreters on contract in hospitals. And finally - stop being stuck up jerks. (My personal opinion). Read more in my article.
General Lack of Access Everywhere Really
There's a huge lack of access for Deafblind people in every part and stage of their lives. I believe the number one cause of this is the public's view of Deafblindness.
As soon as a person finds out someone is Deafblind the majority of the time they instantly think of Helen Keller and "total deafness and total blindness" and forget that Deafblindness has a wide and varied range. The other thought that often occurs too is low expectations - they're hellpless and can't do anything for themselves. I once showed up at a doctor's appointment alone and they asked where my caretaker was. Yeah, I wasn't happy with them.
So because of this attitude, many barriers happen:
One sad fact about all this lack of access and socialization for the Deafblind is that it leads to depression and other mental health issues. It's hard staying positive when there is limited contact with the outside world, and when there is interaction - those people are treating you as if you're incapable of anything.
If you suspect a Deafblind person, or anyone with a disability, of having depression or any other mental health issues, please read these helpful articles
More awareness and training is the best solution. But this takes time, effort and monies that are usually not there. But I believe it starts with the Deafblind people themselves - they need training on empowerment, self-reliance, and how to speak for themselves. Only then can we educate one person at a time, or as a group and wake the public up.
Another solution - stop the "hero" mentality and quench the need to rush to someone's aid (and filming it) for your own self satisfaction or gain. People with disabilities are not your pawns, we are people too and deserve (and should demand) respect. If you see them, simply ask "everything alright?" and if they say it's fine - leave it alone. If they do need help, ask how and help with the one request. Do not assume because they had trouble with one thing that they'll need help with everything else.
I saw this post on Facebook the other day that sums this up perfectly:
I hope I gave everyone food for thought and a change in attitudes.
Today marks three years since I got a kidney transplant.
June 24, 2015
So, I wanted to post the Facebook interactions before, during and after to show the progress:
* January 7, 2013 - Nephrology Appointment - Kidney Function slipped to 16%
* August 6, 2013 - Registered on the Kidney Transplant list in
Tulsa (it's closer)
* May 13, 2014 - Nephrology Appointment - Kidney Function slipped to 15%, Creatinine is at 2.6 (Normal is 0.7-1.5)
* June 23, 2015 - They found a Kidney! Off to Tulsa
* June 24, 2015 - Surgery day 5am. Was told it will be 2 days in the ICU and then 4 - 5 days in a regular room for recovery
* June 25, 2015 - Moved out of ICU
* June 29, 2015 - Discharged from hospital
* July 15, 2015 - Wrote a Blog post on the experience
* July 27, 2015 - Kidney Biopsy done after Creatinine jumped to 1.8 after weeks of being at 1.6 (Results - no sign of rejection). (Have had 4 biopsies done to date.)
* July 29, 2016 - Signs of cellular rejection - first of 3 Antibodies I.V. transfusion - 8 hours to complete
* June 24, 2018 - Labwork every 3 months & Clinic visits every 6 months now.
Consider being a Donor
Please think about being a donor.
* Check off the donor option on your Driver's Licence
* Sign up at the Organ Donor Registry
* Volunteer to be a living donor at the American Transplant Foundation
* Share information
* Support the Organ Donation Network
Many times when people find out out someone is deaf or hard of hearing, the first question is usually:
"Can you read lips?"
Why? Why do people assume that all of "us" can lipread? Maybe you don't realize how hard it is to lipread and master it?
Let me explain:
Only 30% of what is said can be seen clearly on the lips. (And that's by skilled readers too). That's 3 out of 10 words! Most of it is guesswork.
Here's an example of how it's done.
Photo Transcript can be read here.
Pretty difficult right?
Don't forget there's eye fatigue and headaches that goes along with heavy lipreading.
How to Help
You can help ease the strain and stress by helping us out by:
How did you do? Harder than it looks eh?
One final suggestion:
Instead of asking:
Taking an infrared sauna is good for health and would be great for people who are deaf and blind. It is a well known fact that consistent infrared sauna use improves just about all aspects of the body's overall health.
But what about those with the challenges of a disability; in particular the deaf and blind. A person who is deaf or blind needs to make sense of the world using somewhat limited information. If the person’s sensory disabilities are great this challenge can be overwhelming. Behavioral and emotional difficulties often associated with deaf-blindness and can be the natural outcome of the person's isolation.
People with limited sight and or hearing experience the world around them through their limited sight or hearing, but mainly through their sense of touch. A busy day of being indedependent gets very tiring. What a wonderful sensory experience an infrared sauna can be to a deaf-blind person. In the safety of a small space they too can benefit from the many advantages of the infrared along with experiencing, due to their heightened sense of touch, the sheer enjoyment of the soft, gentle heat from the infrared itself.
Many who are deaf or blind have some usable vision and hearing. Some even have enough vision to be able to move about in their environment. They can recognize familiar people, see sign language at close distances or by tactile, and possibly read large print. Others have enough hearing to recognize familiar sounds, understand speech, or even speak themselves.
Deaf-blindness includes a large range of sensory impairments. Touch therapy could be enhanced through the use of infrared as well. These saunas are entirely large enough to comfortably hold many people at a time. A therapist and patient could enjoy quality time spent together while enjoying an infrared sauna's many benefits.
Infrared saunas offer a modern twist to the ancient steam sauna experience. Traditional steam saunas elevate the temperature of the air in order to warm your body. Infrared saunas heat the air within the sauna cabin as infrared emits a wavelength that heats only your body.
Imagine yourself outside on a warm summer day with the sun overhead gently warming you. Your body becomes heated from the sun, however, if the sun is blocked you will feel cooler, though the outside temperature hasn’t really changed. This is your body being heated by the sun and it’s infrared rays. Infrared saunas heat your body in the same manner. Infrared heat is perfectly natural. Infrared sauna therapy heat provides all the healthy benefits of natural sunlight without any of the dangerous side effects of our sun’s radiation. Infrared sauna therapy is natural, comfortable, inexpensive and wonderful for your health.
Brent Bauer, the director of the Department of Internal Medicine's complementary and integrative medicine program at the Mayo Clinic, wrote in a Mayo Clinic Report, “The appeal of saunas in general is that they cause reactions, such as vigorous sweating and increased heart rate, similar to those elicited by moderate exercise. An infrared sauna produces these results at lower temperatures than does a regular sauna, which makes it accessible to people who can't tolerate the heat of a conventional sauna.”
The very safe and healing benefits for the deaf-blind are akin to all who use this infrared therapy. The benefits are myriad. You can experience muscle and organ relaxation, detoxification, pain relief, improved cell health, better circulation, anti-aging, skin purification, immunity boosting, relaxation, lowered BP and even weight loss. It also greatly reduces the effects of depression.
However, due to the heightened senses of the deaf-blind how does infrared feel? It feels like sunshine on a warm day. The gentle light from the infrared envelops the body in rejuvenating warmth as it literally melts away stresses and worries along with ridding the body of all the many toxins with which we are daily bombarded. The temperature of an infrared sauna is comfortable at about 110 to 125 degrees. When infrared comes into contact with the body it penetrates well below the skin, raising core body temperature and enabling your body to sweat while sitting in a comfortable temperature. Because you’re still sweating as deeply as you can, an infrared sauna is going to feel much hotter than it actually is. This allows for you to sit inside the sauna for a much longer period of time. Because of this, you are likely to come back to the sauna night after night, reaping it's many rewards. So, not only does it feel great it's benefits are immense.
The daily lives of the deaf-blind parallel those surrounding them who are not deaf-blind. They never ask to be pitied or patronized as they too can be and are successful, independent and happy individuals who work, raise families and manage a home. They experience all the similar ups and downs of all those around them and they, too, can benefit greatly from the consistent use of infrared sauna therapy.
We all need to get some sleep and rest. Sleep helps us in so many ways, keeping our mind and body working at top performance. It is critical to our health and wellbeing.
Best of all it keeps people from being cranky and unhealthy. If you're the type of person that has a tough time getting to sleep, this information might help.
Here are the do's and don'ts of getting a good night of sleep.
Create a Relaxing Sleeping Environment
If you want to get to sleep, then you must relax. So, having a relaxing sleeping environment is key to sleeping well.
You create a relaxing sleeping space by turning off the lights and eliminating all noise. Turn off your cellphones, tablets, computers, TVs and the radio.
Relaxing Bedding and Sheets
Bedding is very important to get a good night’s sleep. The right type of bedding will make you feel comfortable. Soft sheets bed sheets will help you to unwind and relax.
You can buy cotton sheets for the summer time to keep cool during those warm nights. Flannel sheets are best for the winter if you tend to be cold.
The right form of pillows, covers, and sheets are also essential for sleep.
Establish a Sleep Routine
You should establish a sleep routine to make it easier to fall asleep. A sleep routine will help you to rest better because your body will get used to the schedule.
Every day your body will recognize that it is time to shut down and rest. Consistency is the key to making this work.
Figure Out What’s Keeping You Awake at Night
If you can not fall asleep easily, it may help to figure out why. Write down what is running through your mind and then address it in the morning or next day, during daylight hours.
You may find that you have a different perspective this way, and perhaps some clarity or a new way of thinking about the issue. Once you find out the problem, try and resolve it. If you are worrying about something, then figure out how to stop. The point is to deal with anything that is keeping you up at night.
Stress not only puts a damper on your ability to fall asleep, but it also can affect the quality of sleep that you get when you eventually doze off.
Don't Eat Before Bed
Do not eat before you go to bed for at least 2-3 hours. If you do, eat a light meal or snack.
Eating, especially before bed, has been known to keep people awake because your body is at work digesting.
Avoid Caffeine, Medication, and Alcohol
You probably already know that caffeine and drugs will keep your body and mind active. If you take these substances before sleeping, then you will probably stay up all night long. Unless medication is specifically for the sleeping hours, avoid taking it before bed.
Using Sleep Aids
While some over the counter or prescription sleep aids are beneficial, you should first try natural remedies. There are teas and elixirs to drink before bed that can relax you, essential oils, sound devices, and breathing techniques that may assist with helping your body to shut down.
Hot Water and Sleep
Hot water works wonders for relaxing the body and inducing a sleepy mindset. People that take a hot shower or a relaxing bath may find that they more easily go to sleep.
Are you napping during the day? If you are doing this because of a lack of sleep at night, you may be feeding right into the problem. Napping could worsen the problem if you are doing it at the wrong time, but done properly; it can offer the benefits of relaxation and improved mood and performance during the day.
However, if you can take a quick nap during the day, you may not be affecting your nighttime sleep.
Exercise During the Day
People that exercise in the day and regularly have had better results sleep at night. You should exercise to help you sleep better as well as to reduce anxiety and stress that may be keeping you awake at night.
Even moderate activity on a regular basis will help with sleep disorders, and it has been found to beneficial to addressing a variety of sleep deprivation issues.
The OrCam device is a smart camera that sits on the user’s glasses and reads text aloud to people who are visually impaired or blind.
While the OrCam device is not exactly “glasses for blind person”, it definitely looks that way. The device is so small and discreet, it is barely noticeable. Besides its compact size, there are many amazing OrCam features that make the device unique and accessible.
Easy to Use
OrCam MyEye is an intuitive wearable device with a smart camera that clips onto a regular pair of glasses and is able to 'read' text and convert it into speech relaying the message to the user. The device is activated by a simple intuitive gesture – pointing your finger or pressing a single button. Using OCR - optical character reading - technology, the device can read printed materials on almost any surface such as newspapers, books, computer screens, menus and more.
Many people who are visually impaired or blind have to carry around a heavy magnifying glass to read text. The OrCam MyEye is small and light and simply attaches to the right side of the user’s glasses frame. The camera weighs ¾ of an ounce and has a thin wire, easily hidden behind the ear, which connects to the base unit or “brain” of the device. The base unit is about the size of a cellphone and can easily sit in one’s pocket or on a belt strap.
“You are what you wear.” Wearable technologies have grown tremendously in the past few years. Smart electronic devices that can be worn on the body are practical and discreet. The OrCam is no exception. Although they are not exactly glasses for the blind person, the device sits on the individual’s glasses frame and is so discreet that it can barely be seen by others allowing the user to fit in with the crowd.
Unlike other OCR technologies, the OrCam does not require a scanner connected to a computer or internet connection. All the information stored in the device is private and only accessible to the user.
For people who are visually impaired or blind and have conditions that cannot be corrected by glasses or surgery, the OrCam MyEye can be life-changing.
Who would have thought that this little camera situated on a pair of glasses could help people who are blind or visually impaired regain their independence?