Deafblindness presents very different characteristics, depending primarily on the age which it appears. In the case people with congenital Deafblindness the fundamental work is to build the world inside the child’s mind, based on the construction and development of communication as a mean to achieve this goal. In the case of the acquired Deafblindness, we have to work on rebuilding a new world already known before.
People with acquired Deafblindness already ad visual and/or hearing experiences and have acquired a wealth of knowledge. In addition, they have a clear awareness of sensory loss, because they had lost the sense that was supporting them before, or they have lost both senses at the same time. In many cases it will be required to purchase a new communication system or adapt the system already used, as the case may be, to be able to communicate efficiently in a new sensory situation.
Both congenital and acquired Deafblindness, can be subdivided into other groups, according to factors such as: the age of loss, injury level in each sense, the etiology, the intellectual and cognitive level, the existence of other diseases, or other disabilities associated, etc.
If we remember that the resources and strategies used by people who have lost one of the two senses are based precisely on the intensive use of the other, we will see very clear that the combination of the two lesions makes the Deafblindness one unique disability, because it creates specific problems, which resolution requires different strategies and specific services.
These problems are primarily: mobility, access to information, and especially the communication.
It is not only the communication with the other, but also to communicate with the environment, to know what is happening around.
Do not have an immediate knowledge of what is happening and what is being said in the environment, produces a radical change in all the structures of a person’s life: physical, psychological, cultural and social.
Therefore, Deafblind people have needs and require specific services.
The individualized programs coordination is crucial for the Deafblind people’s future. Within this perspective, the services that are needed are essentially:
The quality of the program depends on the quality of communication development. The Deafblind people not only need to develop a way of communication, but also to develop their senses and the communication skills with others.
A system may be more appropriate for an individual or another, but nevertheless it is essential to teach the more number of communication methods as possible, in order to have the ability to communicate in as many situations as possible.
Rehabilitation programs: orientation and mobility, daily life activities, independent life, which include, among other programming: the use of the cane, money management, management of the home and kitchen, shopping, communication with the society, systems to obtain information about the environment, etc.
- PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT
Disability acceptance, adaptation to Deafblindness and development of positive attitudes.
- TECHNICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL MEANS
Use of environmental sounds warnings, alarms, devices for face-to-face and distance communication, use of computers, smartphones and tablet suitably adapted to be accessible from the characteristics of their disability and allow access to all the possibilities of communication and access to the information offered by the Internet, etc. Learning specific technologies and support to help us to greater integration and increase the possibilities of communication and interaction with the environment.
Adapting curriculum, more time for training, early attention of the Deafblind children. Complete or continue education and maintain independence, access to other training programs and higher education.
- PRE-VOCATIONAL, VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT
Job training and placement. The rehabilitation of a person can only end when this is fully integrated in a working and social level. Adaptation of the place of work, etc.
- SUPPORT SERVICES
Expert guide-interpreters, mediators and volunteers.
- ALTERNATIVES OF RESIDENCE
As the case may be, Deafblind people will need residential alternatives, like: supervised apartments, living in apartments with support, living in the community independently, etc.
- LEISURE AND FREE TIME
Social and cultural Activities. Deafblind people live very dispersed and has very few opportunities to interact between them. The contact and activities themselves will contribute to the development of their own identity and in the effectiveness of the rehabilitation program.
Deafblind people need recreation and interaction as any other social group.
In conclusion, Deafblind people have special needs and their future will depend on the quality and quantity of the services that will help meet these basic needs.
During the IV Helen Keller World Conference, held in 1989 in Stockholm (Sweden) the BASIC NEEDS OF THE DEAFBLIND PEOPLE was drafted and approved.