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Title: Deafblindness  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Telecommunications relay service, Black (2005 film), Tadoma, Intervener, Tacpac
Collection: Blindness, Deaf Culture, Deafblind People, Deafness
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Deafblind American author, activist, and lecturer Helen Keller in 1904

Deafblindness is the condition of little or no useful sight and little or no useful hearing.[1][2] Educationally, individuals are considered to be deafblind when the combination of their hearing and sight loss causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they require significant and unique adaptations in their educational programs. Helen Keller was one such individual.[3]


  • Communication 1
  • Technology 2
  • Notable cases 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Deafblind people communicate in many different ways determined by the nature of their condition, the age of onset, and what resources are available to them. For example, someone who grew up deaf and experienced vision loss later in life is likely to use a sign language (in a visually modified or tactile form). Others who grew up blind and later became deaf are more likely to use a tactile mode of their spoken/written language. Methods of communication include:

  • Use of residual hearing (speaking clearly, hearing aids) or sight (signing within a restricted visual field, writing with large print).
  • Tactile signing, sign language, or a manual alphabet such as the American Manual Alphabet or Deafblind Alphabet (also known as "two-hand manual") with tactile or visual modifications.
  • Interpreting services (such as sign language interpreters or communication aides).
  • Communication devices such as Tellatouch or its computerized versions known as the TeleBraille and Screen Braille Communicator.

Multisensory methods have been used to help deafblind people enhance their communication skills. These can be taught to very young children with developmental delays (to help with pre-intentional communication), young people with learning difficulties, or older people, including those with dementia. One such process is Tacpac.

Deafblind amateur radio operators generally communicate on 2-way radios using Morse code.


Braille equipment includes a variety of multipurpose devices, which enhance access to distance communication. Some can be used as stand-alone devices connected via Wi-Fi, while others are paired with a mobile device to provide tactile access to e-mail, text messaging, and other modern communication resources. To receive braille equipment, an eligible consumer must be proficient in braille and must have access to the internet or cellular service.

The telebraille does not have a computer communications modem but it does have a TTY (TDD) modem. It was designed as a TTY for deafblind people and is also very useful for face-to-face conversation. It has two components. The sighted component is a modified SuperCom TTY device. It has a qwerty keyboard and a single line LED display. The display is regular size and is not particularly suited to people with low vision. The SuperCom TTY can be connected directly to the telephone line using conventional telephone jack or the telephone receiver can be coupled to the SuperCom on a cradle on top of the device. Text flows past the display, in a continuous stream, like tickertape. The SuperCom is connected to the Braille portion of the device by a cable that is about two feet long. The Braille display is about 15 characters in width, although there is a knockout to allow additional characters to be installed, at considerable additional cost. The Telebraille is able to communicate in ASCI mode but it is not compatible to conventional computer modems. There is what looks like a RS-232 socket on the back of the Braille component, but the instructions for the Telebraille state that this jack is for 'future use' and that no computer devices should be attached to it.

Graphic braille display can be used in sensing graphic data like map, image and text data that requires multi-line display capabilities like spreadsheet, equations. Graphic braille display available in the market is DV-2 (from KGS [4]), Hyperbraille [5] and TACTISPLAY Table/Walk (from Tactisplay Corp.[6]). For example, TACTISPLAY Table [7] can show 120*100 resolution refreshable braille graphics in one page. This video shows operation of the device.

Notable cases

  • Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828): Spanish painter, deaf and blind by the time of his death.[8]
  • James Mitchell (1795 – 1869): congenitally deafblind son of Scottish minister.[9]
  • Hieronymus Lorm (1821 – 1902): inventor and novelist.
  • Laura Bridgman (1829 – 1889): first deafblind child to be successfully educated in the U.S.A.
  • Helen Keller (1880 – 1968): author, activist, and lecturer, first deafblind person to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree and perhaps the person most popularly associated with the condition.
  • Ragnhild Kaata (1873-1949) , Norwegian
  • Marie Heurtin (1885-1921): first deafblind born child to be successfully educated in Larnay (France).[10]
  • Alice Betteridge (1901 – 1966): first deafblind Australian to be educated. Teacher, traveller, writer.
  • Jack Clemo (1916 – 1994): British poet who became deafblind as an adult.
  • Richard Kenney (1924 – 1979): educator, lecturer, and poet; third deafblind person to graduate from an American university; president of the Hadley School for the Blind from 1975 to 1979.[11]
  • Robert Smithdas (1925 – 2014): first deafblind person in the US to receive a master's degree.
  • Mae Brown (1935 – 1973): Canada’s first deafblind university graduate; developed services for the deafblind at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).[12]
  • Theresa Poh Lin Chan (1945? – ): Singaporean teacher and writer.
  • Young-Chan : South Korean protagonist of the biographical documentary, Planet of Snail.

See also


  1. ^ Keller, Helen (1938). Helen Keller's Journal, 1936-1937. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co. 
  2. ^ Kudlick, Catherine; Nielsen (2005). "Kim". Journal of American History. 4 91 (Review of the Radical Lives of Helen Keller). 
  3. ^ "NCDB Selected Topics: Deaf-Blindness Overview". Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  4. ^ "Home of KGS Corporation". KGS Corporation. 
  5. ^ "Hyperbraille". Hyperbraille. 
  6. ^ "Home of Tactisplay Corp.". Tactisplay Corp. 
  7. ^ "Full Page Braille Display being Launched by Tactisplay Corp.". Tactisplay Corp. 
  8. ^ "Francisco Goya, Spanish painters, biography of francisco goya, francisco goya painting, picture of francisco goya, history of paintings, famous painters". Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  9. ^ Brueggman, Brenda (2006). Women & Deafness: Double Visions. Washington, D.C: Gallaudet University Press. pp. 8–35. 
  10. ^ Wilhelm Jerusalem "Marie Heurtin. Education of a Girl born Deaf and Blind" English Manuscript from the Library of the Perkins School for the Blind, Boston 1906
  11. ^ "Notes and News", Bulletin of Prosthetics Research, Fall 1979.
  12. ^ "Bravo, Miss Brown! | University of Toronto Magazine". Retrieved 2012-03-04. 

External links

  • The National Center On Deaf-Blindness
  • Deafblind UK supporting deafblind people in the UK
  • The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults
  • Sense Scotland Scottish charity for Deafblindness
  • The Helen Keller International Award, art competition at the Wayback Machine (archived October 18, 2010)
  • Sense - UK charity for Deafblindness
  • Sense International (India), an NGO working with deafblind people
  • The Center for Deaf-Blind Persons
  • Frequently Asked Questions About DeafBlindness - Detailed info about what it's like to be deafblind (communication, mobility, cultural identity, quality of life, etc.)
  • World Federation of the Deafblind
  • American Association of the Deaf-Blind
  • Sense International (India) - working with Deafblind people in India
  • Canadian Deafblind and Rubella Association
  • New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative - working with Deaf-blind youth, families, and service providers in New York
  • Kansas Deaf-Blind Fund - offsets costs associated with educating students who are deaf-blind
  • Oklahoma Deaf-Blind Technical Assistance Project - working with children & youth with DB, their families, educational teams, and agencies
  • APASCIDE The Spanish Association of Families of Deafblind People
  • Able Australia - formerley the Deafblind Association of Victoria, Australia
  • Helen Keller, Wilhelm Jerusalem and the froundation of the first deaf blind institute in Vienna in 1913 taken from "Wilhelm Jerusalem - Helen Keller:'Letters'" edited by Herbert Gantschacher. ISBN 978-3-9503173-0-5, ARBOS-Edition © & ® 2010-2012
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