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IDENTIFY SPECIAL NEEDS OF THOSE BECOMING DEAFBLIND AFTER ACQUIRENS LANGUAGE:

When we talked about acquired deafblindness it is a group of people that can be: Persons born with normal hearing and sight Congenital deaf or hard of hearing persons with acquired vision problems Congenital blind or visually impaired persons with acquired auditory problems.

  • There are groups of people with very different backgrounds and complex set of problems.
  • There is a big difference between a person that acquires deafblindness once and whom has a syndrome or a disease that will deteriorate his-her vision and hearing.
  • Not just in the time issue, but also in the emotional impact that this sudden situation implicates.

There is a need of emotional support and time for the person to adjust him or her self to the new life, as well as the family and friends.

The emotional shock that the person who has become deafblind feels is the lack of contact with the world. Always there has to be a way to make contact with him or her. To let him-her know that there is a way of adapting his or her “old” communication system or to find a new way to develop one, to be in contact with each other.

Acquired deafblind friends and pupils have informed me it was important to feel that, even with this difficult situation, they were able to continue in contact with a closer relative, by using new communication methods

The needs of the acquired deafblind persons are basic focus on the rehabilitation and support, both focus on maintaining independence.

“With regard to rehabilitation, the activities that are important are learning new communication skills, training for mobility, psychosocial help and all daily living skills. With regard to support services we must think about services like interpreting services, guide/ help services and volunteers. (Anneke Balder, 2001)

This can be a situation in which the person acquires deafblindness, however still having a functional visual and residual hearing (Usher type 2) for some time.

In the case where the person uses the vision and hearing sense, there is no necessity to change the communication system or adapt to the environment. Maybe technical devises will be needed such as hearing aids.

Here the needs are basically emotional to understand the new condition, until s/he loses one of the senses.

I will cover the following aspects:

  • Communication
  • Psychological aspects
  • Other as daily living skills, braille, O&M

COMMUNICATION:

In cases in which the person lost totally the distance senses: vision or hearing the first need is the adaptation of the communication system.

To think in the adaptation of the communication, we need to have information about the background of the person that becomes deafblind.

  • Was the person deaf, blind or with normal sight and hearing?
  • What is his-her educational level?,
  • What work did h/she do before?, is the family supporting him or her in the new situation?,
  • How much does s/he know about the condition? Etc.

The needs will be very different in each case, consider the following situations as:

- If the person was deaf and become blind or deafblind, he or she belongs to the deaf community, he or she should know sign language and finger spelling. The main need of the person is to adapt his-her visual communication system used before (sign language and finger spelling) to a tactual form.

Then with a communication system, he or she will be able to learn how to move independent with O&M , learn braille, depending how much language the person has as well as his or her needs and other daily living skills that need adaptation.

There are certain aspects to take to account:

  • That they need time to understand and accept the new way to use it and the emotional aspects of not using his-her vision again.
  • How much the family will be involved in using the communication system with the deafblind person.
  • If the deafblind person has a deteriorating disease, during the life the communication method will change and the needs as well as the emotional aspect of the person and the family will be need to adapt to the new situation that he-she will experience.

- If the person is hard of hearing and become blind, he or she should still be using his or her residual hearing to communicate and continue with the expression that was used before: speech, sign language, etc.

The special need become focus on learning braille, orientation and mobility and daily living skills, that will be explained later on.

- If the person was blind before becoming deaf and knows braille, the need will be to adapt this braille to a communication system in a tactile form, with the Tele-touch machine, or “writing braille” in his-her fingers, dividing the parts of the finger as the braille cells. Using it to write on the persons hand. Or with two hands, using the fingers as the Perkins braille machine keys.

Because of his or her blindness, the person will know how to move independently as well as in the daily living skills.

- If the person is literate and was using his-her hearing and vision before and become totally deafblind, the way to cover his or her need in the communication aspect will be to use the block alphabet letters on the hand.

As the situation with the deaf or the hard of hearing, this person will need to learn braille, orientation and mobility and other daily living skills.

- If the person is illiterate and was using his-her hearing and vision before and becomes totally deafblind, then objects of reference, that represent an

activity, will be my recommendation as a communication method.

It will be difficult but not impossible to learn braille.

Have to take into account what are his or her activities to be adapted using the objects of reference.

It is necessary that s/he will have basic notions of spatial concepts to teach orientation and mobility.

I know that this will be a very strange case, however it can happen.

When a selected a communication method is functional, it is possible to start to cover the other needs of the person. However again you have to have in mind what are the life style conditions of the person, it is not the same situation if the person is a professional on that if s/he is a farmer.

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