Deafblind Awareness Week

Deafblind Awareness Week Begins - Learn about the history.

In 1984, American President Ronald Reagan announced that the last week of June would be dedicated to people with deafblindess and to celebrating the life of Helen Keller – famous author, lecturer, and advocate for people with disabilities.

Deafblindness is a term commonly used to describe people with combined hearing and sight loss. The degree of the impairments vary greatly by individuals. A person may have some hearing with severe sight impairment, or some sight and total deafness. Only rarely does deafblindness mean complete hearing and sight loss, and this is why many people use the term dual-sensory or multi-sensory impairment as they more clearly express the realities behind deafblindness.

Deafblindness can occur in a few ways, including complications during pregnancy or birth, syndromes such as congenital rubella syndrome, illness, and aging, amongst others. Humans process a lot of information through the senses, and thus people with impairments of hearing and sight can have other disabilities and difficulties in learning and communication. The prescence of multiple disabilities can cause complex health needs.

There are many ways that people with deafblindness interact the world and each person has a unique experience of life. For all people, communication is more than just talking. For people with deafblindness, communication brings invaluable support and improves well being. Consistent communication with skilled and sensitive partners can help reduce isolation and barriers, as well as improve learning and provide a sense of being felt and heard. People with deafblindness express themselves in a variety of ways, depending on the individual. Vocalisations, facial expressions and body movements, tactile signing, and communications wallets are just a small range of methods used to communicate.

Deafblindness Awareness Week is an important event that gives visibility to a group of people with very unique world experiences. Start a discussion with your friends and family about deafblindness. Encourage everyone to learn more about it and help to remove isolation.

There is much more to learn about deafblindness.

For more information and resources, please visit the following sites:
Deafblind Association of NSW:
Australian Deafblind council:
Able Australia:
Read about the incredible life of Helen Keller here: