Congenital Deafblindness

Where To Start

The person with deafblindness is not a Deaf person that cannot see or a blind person who cannot hear.  The problem is not additive – it is more complicated with facets of communication, perception and other neurological disabilities building a multi-sensory deprived world for the person to navigate.

What advice, information or support are you being asked to provide? How do you assess the person’s skills and development? How do you get to understand a world that is so different from your own? How do you communicate with a person who is congenitally deafblind when you may not have a shared language or method of exchanging information?

Keep the family central
Use the families wishes and priorities to guide your actions and steer your input.

Sensory Impairment
Refreshing or developing your knowledge of sensory impairment is a good place to start. Begin with vision and hearing, but many people who are congenitally deafblind have difficulties with the other senses too. Understand, not only the structures of the sensory systems, but delve into how the brain processes and integrates the signals the sensory organs send it.

Collect as much information from reports and assessments as you can
Many professions will be involved in the person who is congenitally deafblind’s life. They will all have some information that can help your understanding. The difficulty is bringing all this information together and incorporating any recommendations into one coherent plan.

Have you recognised deafblindess?
Due to the complexity of accurately identifying vision and hearing impairment in the presence of other or multiple disabilities, a dual sensory loss may not have been identified.


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