Campaign launches to help deafblind people
Published by HearFirst for HearFirst in Health and also in Communities, Education
A national campaign, which aims to raise awareness about Deafblindness and increase the support for deafblind people and their families, launched today.
The theme for the week-long campaign, which runs from 25 June until 1 July, is ‘belonging and participating’ and events and activities will be held nationwide to get everybody involved.
The week has been organised by Sense, a national charity that supports and campaigns for children and adults who are deafblind, and will be supported by award winning workplace and consultancy company, HearFirst who deliver deafblind awareness training to professionals within the health, education and social care sectors.
The term Deafblindness is associated with people who have a visual and hearing impairment and often find it difficult to communicate, have problems accessing information and/or mobility issues.
Independent research estimates that there are 356,000 people living in the UK who are considered deafblind with 62% of those people aged 70 and over.
HearFirst has developed a unique training course ideal for professionals to help them understand more about the impact of deafblindness, the barriers faced by people with dual sensory loss and the possible solutions to removing those barriers. Julie Ryder, Director and Founder of HearFirst, said: “There are many methods used to communicate with deafblind people so it is important to understand that each person is different based on their residual sight and hearing, their age and their access to learning alternative communication methods.
“The underlying problems with identifying a deafblind person may include issues such as inadequate resources and inadequate resourcing, for example professionals not having the appropriate communication skills to understand the expressed needs of deafblind people.
“It is hoped that Deafblind Awareness Week will communicate the key messages to professionals and organisations. Michael Collins knows first hand that it is essential for professionals to have the necessary knowledge and skills needed.”
29 year-old Michael Collins from Oldham was diagnosed with Waardenburgs Syndrome at the age of two and agrees that professionals and organisations should be doing more to understand the access needs of deafblind people.
Michael was born deaf and then lost much of his sight as a teenager. His preferred method of communication is hands on sign language, he said, “Deafblind Awareness Week will hopefully highlight the importance of communication issues with deafblind people. From my own personal experience, it makes a big difference when other people understand my access needs – it makes me relax more and enjoy people’s company.
“Every day I experience problems thus further demonstrating the need and importance of training service providers in Deafblindness. To me, the most important thing that people need to learn about Deafblindness is how to communicate properly and realise that I am still a human being and shouldn’t just be ignored.”
The training course that HearFirst delivers also helps professionals to feel more confident in communicating with a deafblind person, understand the impact of Deafblindness, be aware of what technical equipment and human aids to communication are available and know what their obligations are under the Equality Act 2010.
For more information on Deafblindness Awareness Training, please contact Julie Ryder at HearFirst on 01706 872 816 or visit www.hearfirst.org.uk. For more information on Deafblind Awareness Week and how to get involved, please visit www.sense.org.uk.