Deaf-Blind Telecommunications in the 21st Century
There are four very broad categories of deaf-blind people:
People who are congenitally deaf-blind (born deaf and blind or became
deaf and blind before age 2-4). The cause is often genetic or rubella. There is
a large group of deaf-blind people now in their 30s and 40s that as a result of
the rubella outbreak in the 1960s. Congenitally deaf-blind people usually live
in a supported home or other supported environment. Most attend a school for
the blind and learn through tactile interpreting, fingerspelling, and signing.
People who are born deaf or hard of hearing, lose their sight with age.
The largest cause is Ushers syndrome. Recent research shows that there are
three, possibly four types of Ushers. Those with type 1 lose vision between age
14-16 and can still see but get tunnel vision. In their 40s to 60s, they
experience a decrease in central vision and become blind. Those with type 2
usually, but not always, have central vision that lasts much longer. Type 3,
which was just identified, causes hearing and vision to drop about the same
time. Most attend schools for the deaf.
People who are born blind, lose their hearing with age. There are
several causes. Most go to a school for the blind but interact with the deaf
People who have lost both vision and hearing as they age.
Harry C. Anderson, President of
American Association of the
Jeffrey S. Bohrman, PhD, Project Director of
Ohio Deaf-Blind Outreach Program