Parents of children who are diagnosed as deaf and blind, or who have significant hearing and visual impairment, may not have grown up knowing or any individuals in their communities who face the same challenges as their son or daughter, and may not have met any adults whose accomplishments inspire them who are living with challenges similar to what their child experiences growing up. Although children who have the dual diagnosis may experience the world differently than their mainstream peers, they are capable of great accomplishments and great mischief unimagined by families who may initially feel overwhelmed by the diagnosis.
Early diagnosis of hearing or vision loss is missed in some babies who benefit from intervention and support immediately. Every child responds differently to therapies and options available in their community depending on many factors including the education, training, personality and ambition of family and support staff, as well as their own.
Children, teens and adults who have the same vision and hearing loss as one another are as different and unique from one another as their mainstream peers. Personality, talents and interests vary no matter the diagnosis a child is given by medical or educational professionals. Families are more likely to invent or find accommodations for their child by learning what is most productive for their child out of the options that are available for everyone. Advances in technology and updated tools based on simple low-tech methods of communication and experiencing the world make as big a difference today as the techniques that allowed Helen Keller to express her abilities and ambition.
Successful, educated and talented adults who happen to be deaf and blind and those have significant hearing and visual impairment can be found in neighborhoods throughout the country. Planning a child's education and coordinating support services with specialists and therapists without considering the perspective and experience of those who are living out active and social adult lives may affect parent expectations and reduce opportunities for the child, teen, or whole family.
Some adults with the combination of vision and hearing impairment grew up with neither, or had only one condition as a child. Some individuals have a genetic condition such as Usher Syndrome, where a child may be born deaf and experience vision loss early; one or both may develop with no relation to the other. Some children are born with serious vision impairment and develop hearing loss due to illness, accident or injury.
There are several communities in the USA where individuals who are deaf and blind have built productive, satisfying and interesting lives with others who benefit from the same resources and accommodations that allow them to live life to the fullest, expressing their individuality and talents and developing new interests throughout their lives.
Browse at your local bookstore, public library, art store or online retailer for books like She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer, Welcoming Students Who Are Deaf-Blind into Typical Classrooms: Facilitating School Participation, Learning, and Friendship; or Words in My Hands - A Teacher, a Deaf-Blind Man, an Unforgettable Journey
Lex Grandia - On the difficulties of people who are deafblind
Resources for families of children who are diagnosed deaf and blind can be found at the Family Village Website
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FAQ about DeafBlindness
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A Role for Sign Language Interpreters: Preserving the Linguistic Human Rights of Deaf People
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The Independent Airport Traveler
Sun Sense and Summer Fun
Childhood Hearing Problems
Hearing, Vision and Scoliosis Screening at School