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Deafblind Awareness Week 2024

Deafblindness is a combined impairment, although it doesn’t always mean that people affected have a total loss of sight or hearing.

It affects around 400,000 people in the UK – that’s enough to fill Wembley Stadium nearly five times…

Deafblind Awareness Week is a campaign led by the charity Deafblind UK which is encouraging us to get “in the know” about deafblindness.

They are aiming to help people to understand more about deafblindness and how it affects people living with disability.

Steve Conway, CEO of Deafblind UK said: “Deafblindness affects people in all walks of life and in many different ways. But it is still something that many people don’t know much about. This Deafblind Awareness Week we want to help everyone to understand what deafblindness is – and what it’s not! We would love people to use this week to learn more about deafblindness. Let’s start to educate each other and normalise the conversation around sight and hearing loss.”

Deafblindness is also referred to as ‘dual sensory loss’ or ‘dual sensory impairment’ which impacts communication, mobility and accessibility.

Deafblindness affects everyone in different ways because it can be part of a spectrum, which ranges from difficulty in watching or hearing the television to not being able to see or hear at all.

It affects people of all ages but it is more common in older people as our senses naturally deteriorate with age.

Apart from getting older, deafblindness can also be caused by health conditions or illnesses, including:

• Eye conditions: age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma
• Usher syndrome: a genetic condition that affects hearing, vision and balance
• Damage to the brain: meningitis, encephalitis, stroke or severe head injury
• Problems associated with premature birth
• An infection picked up during pregnancy: rubella, toxoplasmosis or cytomegalovirus
• Genetic conditions: CHARGE syndrome or Down’s syndrome
• Cerebral palsy: affects the brain and nervous system, affects movement & co-ordination

It’s important to be able to recognise any sight and hearing impairments in ourselves and in our friends and family but how do we recognise the signs?

Early signs of sight loss include:

• Difficulty reading or watching TV
• Difficulty recognising people
• Often thinking that you need new glasses
• Being uncomfortable in bright and/or low lighting
• Finding it hard to read facial expressions
• Being unable to find something that you have lost without using your hands or asking for help
• Finding it difficult to move around in unfamiliar places or in familiar places that have changed

Early signs of hearing loss include:

• Asking people to repeat themselves or to speak louder
• Difficulty hearing the TV, radio or music and having the volume turned up high
• Not hearing the doorbell or the telephone ringing
• Complaining that people are mumbling or speaking too quickly
• Finding it hard to understand unfamiliar people
• Avoiding using the phone

If you feel that your ability to see or hear clearly is getting worse, it’s important to seek professional advice as soon as possible.

That way, you can get the personalised help that you need to live well.

Find out more about our hearing assessments and treatments here or call us on 01223 661399.

Find out more about Deaf Blind UK and Deafblind Awareness Week here.