Each person with deafblindness connects, communicates and experiences the world differently, and so their requirements, preferences and support needs will vary.
Common support needs
In general, people with deafblindness require support for:
Communication – it can be hard for people with deafblindness to express their needs and to understand what is going on around them without support.
They may need to work with an interpreter using tactile or visual sign language, or use assistive technologies, such as hearing aids, magnifiers, or braille displays.
Mobility – orientation and moving around can be challenging for people with deafblindness without the support of another person.
Some people with deafblindness will need access to a professional interpreter-guide to provide communication and guiding support in certain situations and environments.
Description – it may be challenging for people with deafblindness to understand and connect with their environment without additional information.
A professional interpreter-guide can provide description of physical surroundings and activity taking place in a way that is accessible to the individual.
Feeling left out of life
Many people with deafblindness experience isolation and exclusion because their support needs are not met.
They frequently encounter barriers that prevent them from participating in their communities, including difficulties communicating and being understood.
This situation is often made worse by stigma and discrimination, which causes people with deafblindness to be left out of society as a result of misconceptions and a lack of understanding about their disability.
In our work, we ensure that people with deafblindness can access the support that they require, according to their individual needs. We also raise awareness about deafblindness and work alongside people with deafblindness and their families to challenge the societal barriers that prevent them from realising their rights.
Read about the experiences of children and young people who have been supported by Sense International and our partners.
Deafblindness and disability data
In many countries, deafblindness is not seen as a distinct disability.
This means that people with deafblindness are frequently invisible within disability data and their needs are not well understood. As a result, people with deafblindness are often unable to access adequate support services and struggle to find information in formats that are accessible to them.
We believe it is vital that deafblindness is recognised as a distinct disability because of the impact of having more than one sensory impairment, and that the individual experience of people with deafblindness must be better understood.
Find out how our advocacy and research is helping to raise awareness about deafblindness.