Congenital Deafblindness

Learning and Communicating

As a baby we learn an enormous amount before we begin more formal learning at school. As adults, we do not stop learning, even when we have completed our schooling. And so too, learning for a congenitally deafblind person is a lifelong process, if they are provided with adequate opportunities and support. The strategies discussed in this section can be used as part of this lifelong learning and therefore, the term “person” is used to refer to the congenitally deafblind child or adult.

How then, does a person born deafblind learn? They learn:-

  • By what they have the opportunity to explore and to do
  • From what their senses tell them
  • If someone can be close by to interact with them
  • If they are given time, time to perceive, time to think, time to react

However, learning is less likely to “just happen”. A congenitally deafblind person is less able to notice what surrounds them. If they also have reduced ability to control their movement, they are less able to move towards and explore or investigate something that has caught their attention. Their opportunities for learning, can therefore be reduced.

As a result, more careful thought needs to be put into creating opportunities for the person to notice and move. We do this through creating surroundings (sometimes referred to as the “environment”) with specifically chosen sounds, sights, smells, tastes, things to be felt and touched and equipment to assist movement and body positioning. Along with the opportunities to learn and explore on their own, we can be in close proximity or physical contact to share experiences and explore surroundings together.

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Learning

For a person born  deafblind, what, how much and when they learn, can be enhanced by… 

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Communicating

The ways in which people born deafblind communicate are varied and often unique to the individual. 

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Playtime

It’s been said that play is a child’s work. Playtime can seem a little different for a child born deafblind. 

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