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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Let's celebrate Deaf-Blind Awareness Week!

The National Family Association states on their website (http://nfadb.org/) that as a result of a Presidential Proclamation made by Ronald Reagan in 1984, the last week of June has been designated as HELEN KELLER DEAF BLIND AWARENESS WEEK. The Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) is one of the major associations that celebrates Deaf-Blindness Awareness week and encourages as many people as possible to raise awareness of the impact Deaf-Blindness has had on individuals and their families.We encourage you to celebrate Deaf-Blind awareness week. It's really important to make sure everyone around us knows that people who are Deaf Blind CAN be fully active and incorporated in our community no matter what their barriers are just like all people with disabilities.

One of the many important aspects to focus on during this time is making sure everyone is aware of the many different types of individuals who are Deaf-Blind and how they can be affected at any level ranging from mild to severe. We must be prepared and open minded to what people think and to know that every individual is different. Keeping this in mind is also very important among employers when making accommodations in the work place. The national organization of nurses with disabilities (http://www.nond.org/Trending/files/ddbcce7883c87af979708c5b88a92265-23.html) states the following. When you think of an individual who is deaf-blind (also known as deaf-blindness, blind-deaf, or combined vision and hearing loss), do you think of someone who is fully deaf and fully blind? Helen Keller might be an important historical figure that comes to mind. In reality, while there are individuals who are fully deaf and fully blind, many people who are deaf-blind have some usable vision and hearing. For example, some individuals may have grown up with some degree of vision loss and experienced a change in their hearing later in life, or vice versa. Other individuals may have been born with mild to moderate deficits in both vision and hearing. Others may have experienced trauma or illness at some point in their lives that resulted in both vision and hearing loss while older adults are likely to experience age-related vision and hearing impairments.

Workplace accommodation needs for deaf-blind employees will depend on the setting in which individuals will be working, their specific job tasks, and their unique hearing and vision needs. Typical concerns may include: equal access to information presented in meetings and trainings, effective workplace communication, access to printed materials, computer access, and emergency preparedness. Job seekers and employees who are deaf-blind are likely to be very knowledgeable about their accommodation needs, especially equipment and techniques that have served them well in other settings. Employers should be prepared to work with the individual, and likewise, individuals should be open to discussing their own ideas as well as effective alternatives. Remember that accommodations may be needed to allow effective communication during this process. Many helpful resources are available to assist in determining effective accommodation including: medical providers, vocational rehabilitation and other state agencies, and assistive technology projects.

Secondly we want people to be aware of the alternative ways of communication that work for individuals who are Deaf blind. Communication in the work place will vary from person to person based on their needs. Never be afraid to ask a person you meet who is Deaf Blind what they need to communicate in order to help them to accomplish their goals. According to https://www.sense.org.uk/content/communicating-people-who-are-deafblind. Good communication is crucial to our relationships and membership of social groups for them to be satisfying and meaningful.

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A person, who is deaf blind or has sensory impairments, depends on communication that is clear, concise and accessible for a good quality of life. They may face great difficulty in knowing for certain what is happening around them or in communicating with those they meet.
Deaf blind people use many different methods of communication. The method, or methods used will depend on the amount of residual sight and hearing and any additional disabilities the individual has. It will also depend on whether the individual has learned formal language before becoming deaf blind. It is important to remember that communication often requires a great deal of concentration and effort for a person who is deaf blind and can be tiring for them. The environment, such as lighting and background noise, should be considered to assist those with sight and hearing impairments. A person’s communication methods and needs vary enormously - and these may change during their life.

As a person who is Deaf Blind myself I want to encourage you to take this opportunity to spread awareness of Deaf-Blindness in any way you can.

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