For Helen Keller DeafBlind Awareness week, celebrated June 26-July 2, APH VisionAware is highlighting information on combined hearing and vision loss.
To provide perspective on the magnitude of combined hearing and vision loss in this country, recent studies report that people who are blind or low vision are twice as likely to be deaf or hard of hearing than those who are fully sighted. The prevalence of combined hearing and vision loss increases greatly with age and over 50% of people 65 and older with vision loss also indicate they have hearing loss (VisionServe Alliance (2022). United States’ Older Population and Vision Loss: A Briefing, St. Louis).
Knowing that such a large number of older people who are blind/low vision also experience hearing loss, it is critical to understand what to do when encountering a person with combined hearing and vision loss.
Encountering a Person with Combined Hearing and Vision Loss
For DeafBlind Awareness week, the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC) has provided APH VisionAware “Tips for Living with Combined Hearing and Vision Loss.” Although geared toward the person with hearing and vision loss, these tips can help everyone when working with or encountering a person with dual sensory loss.
Some of the highlights include:
- Speak naturally and clearly, enunciating words without shouting. Talk directly to the person without objects or hands in front of your face.
- Gently tap the person on the shoulder and remain in one place until they locate you.
- Say the person’s name before talking. (Ex: Hi, Joe, it’s John. How are you today?).
- Stay close by when talking but don’t encroach on personal space.
- Stand or sit near the person’s better ear.
- Be patient if asked to repeat what you were saying.
- Let the person know when you are leaving the room.
- Provide visual and environmental Information about the space, noise level, activities, and what others are doing and how.
The tip sheet also includes information about eating out, watching television, useful devices, and resources such as HKNC and their regional offices, and financial assistance for hearing aids and other equipment.
To encourage awareness about the DeafBlind community,
HKNC offering the following courses for free from 6/26-7/2.
Tech Solutions for Older Adults: TechSolutions4683
Ensuring Access to Communication: DirectProviders752
Assistive Tech in the Workplace: AssistiveTechFREE937
Equal Access and Participation: EnsuringAccess8345
Enter the corresponding code during checkout to access the course for free.
If you have any questions, you can contact us at: PLD@hknc.org
Or visit helenkeller.org for more information.
- HKNC: DeafBlind Awareness Week 2022 (helenkeller.org)
- HKNC: Using Technology to Increase the Independence of Older Adults with Combined Hearing and Vision Loss (helenkeller.org)
- Braille Literacy Month: Emergent Literacy for Individuals Who Are Blind or Deafblind – VisionAware
- New Research: The Importance of Supporting the Well-Being of Adults with Sensory Loss and Their Spouses in Rehabilitation – VisionAware
**Note: The HKNC DeafBlind poster also states, “Creativity and innovation are built upon a diverse group of perspectives. Who better to help initiate that innovation than the DeafBlind community, a group of people whose lives are driven by the pursuit of change and innovation?” Additionally, A blue circle with the words “DeafBlind Awareness” is to the right of the group of people in the original poster.