For many people when they hear the word "Deafblind" they automatically picture Helen Keller - completely deaf and completely blind.
I'll let you in on a BIG fact - it's a SPECTRUM y'all!
What is a Spectrum?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Spectrum as:
"Used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points."
The Deafblind Spectrum
In the case of Deafblindness, the two opposite points are:
Completely Deaf (no sound registers) --- Hard of Hearing (mild hearing loss)
Completely Blind (no light registers) --- mild vision loss
So,, if you meet someone who labels themselves as Deafblind (like me) it could mean a whole world of things....
Keep in mind there are spectrum ranges within Deafness and Blindness alone too.
It's all individual too, 2 people with the same hearing or vision loss will be able to use it in different ways. For example, 2 people both have the same level of severe hearing loss - one can still comprehend speech with hearing aids or a C.I. while the other can barely identify sounds.
What causes Deafblindness?
There's a wide variety of causes of Deafblindness, either caused at birth or during some time in their life.
Some simple causes are:
Why is Deafblindness Different?
You may now see it as "Deaf + Blind" when in reality it is "Deaf x Blind".
Here's what I mean:
Now think about it...how much of the environment around us everyday is solely tactile? Not much eh?
People who can see and hear often take for granted the information that those senses provide. Events such as the approach of another person, an upcoming meal, the decision to go out, a change in routine are all signaled by sights and sounds that allow a person to prepare for them. A deafblind person will miss these cues because of limited sight and/or hearing and either need someone or technology to compensate.
Now, now..... don't start the pity party!
Many people with deafblindness can and do lead fulfilling lives with relationships, jobs, families, hobbies, adventures and everything else! Sure we need a few adaptations but Pffft!
I've listed some successful Deafblind people in a previous post, but here are some Deafblind folks leading ordinary lives:
This is in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) but you can see the various communication styles and activities.
Now you have a small example about Deafblindness. We can and do everything we'd like to do and find ways to do it.
Some of us talk, some don't.
Some get around fine, others prefer a sighted guide, white cane, or guide dog.
Some know sign and use it exclusively, some don't sign at all.
Some have a positive outlook on life, some don't and want pity and attention.
We. Are. Just. Like. Everyone. Else.
We just do things a bit diffferently, or take longer to do. That's all.
Take me for example, I'm a mom of a teenager and a college student (oh Lordy), I work from home as a freelance writer and ASL tutor, I travel, I watch movies, I listen to music (all the time). The only things I "don't" do is drive or talk on the phone.
If you want to know more about deafblindness, drop me a comment and I'll be glad to help!