Deaf-Blind Telecommunications in the 21st Century

There are four very broad categories of deaf-blind people:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 community.

  4. People who have lost both vision and hearing as they age.

Harry C. Anderson, President of American Association of the Deaf-Blind
Jeffrey S. Bohrman, PhD, Project Director of Ohio Deaf-Blind Outreach Program