FAQs

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Does the word “deaf-blind” mean a person is fully deaf and fully blind?

No. Most people who are deaf-blind have a combination of vision and hearing loss. They usually have some useful but not always reliable vision and hearing. Some people have little or no useable hearing and vision.

For example, a person may be born deaf or hard of hearing and lose his or vision later in life. Another person may grow up as a blind or visually impaired person and experience a hearing loss later. Some people are born with combined vision and hearing loss, or lose their vision and hearing at an early age.

How do people become deaf-blind?

About 50 percent of people in the deaf-blind community have Usher Syndrome. This is a
genetic condition where a person is born deaf or hard of hearing, or with normal hearing,
and loses his or her vision later on in life from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). There are three
kinds of Usher Syndrome. If a person has Usher 1, she is born deaf, and starts to lose her
vision usually in the teen years. If a person has Usher Syndrome 2, he is born hard of hearing
and starts to lose his vision later on.

With Usher 3, a person is usually born with normal
vision and hearing, or with a mild hearing loss, and start to lose both senses later in life.
Other common causes of deaf-blindness include birth trauma, optic nerve atrophy,
cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. Some people may be
born with both hearing and visual impairments through birth trauma or rare causes such as
CHARGE Syndrome or cortical visual impairment. Others may become deaf-blind through
accidents or illnesses.

What are some common communication methods that deaf-blind people use?

Deaf-blind people use many different ways to communicate. They use sign language (adapted to fit their visual field), tactile sign language, tracking, tactile fingerspelling, print on palm, tadoma, Braille, speech, and speech reading. The communication methods vary with each person, depending on the causes of their combined vision and hearing loss, their background, and their education.

What kind of technology or equipment do deaf-blind people use?

Deaf-blind people use many types of technology and equipment in their daily lives. Examples include mobility canes, closed circuit televisions (CCTV), Braille, Braille TTYs, TTYs with large print displays, and Braille or large print watches or clocks, to name only a few.

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