Information About Deafblindness.
The Deafblind Manual Alphabet.
It's James here,
I would like to welcome you to this page of A-Z to Deafblindness, And thank you for being interested in finding out more about us, A special welcome to fellow deafblind people, blind, and of course our deaf friends as well.
By coming to this particular page you must be interested in learning how we, the deafblind, communicate with each other, and to our family and friends and to the hearing seeing world which we all live in.
I sincerely hope that with the information which is below you will, at the end of this page, become more aware about deafblindness, and perhaps you may have learned how to communicate to a deafblind person, or a deaf person when you meet them.
A little info about me, My name is James Gallagher, and I live in the United Kingdom.
I am totally blind and almost profoundly deaf. I have to wear two powerful hearing aids which are linked up to a piece of equipment called a "hearit". This equipment which is worn around my neck and is placed on my chest, amplifies the hearing aids which then in turn allows me to hear a little.
If someone wishes to speak to me they have to speak directly into the "hearit". This method is cumbersome for them and me, but not everyone knows the deafblind manual and without my hearing aids I am totally deaf.
The "hereit" is just for indoor use - when I am outdoors, I need a Guide/Communicator with me. When I have to go somewhere immediately I can leave my home with my guide dog, her name is Wilma. The British Guide Dog Association will train a deafblind person with a guide dog. Even though Wilma is my eyes on the road, she can't be my ears as well, so when I am out with her I also wear a device called TAM.
Tam is a lightweight sound monitor for profoundly deaf people. You wear the Tam like a watch on your left wrist. It has a very thin wire which is attached to the watch like a band, and the other end of the wire is connected to a small control box which you have clipped on to your jumper or inside pocket.
What does Tam do for me? Well, the watch band on my wrist is a vibrator which gives me a clear firm vibration when a sound is quite near me, useful for trying to cross a busy road, but if the road is a particular busy one there of course will be quite a lot of noise around, then it's a waiting game for someone to escort you across the road. Tam is also very useful for wearing indoors as well, as it alerts you when someone enters the room, or when they are trying to communicate to you. It's a very useful bit of equipment, and one which I constantly use. I wonder though, what people think when they first meet me and see wires coming out everywhere!
As I said above, I also have a guide dog. Because she is guiding a deafblind person she has a different colour of harness, it's a red and white harness. In the British Highway Code it specifies that red and white are the colours which should inform drivers on the road that the pedestrian who is standing at the kerb with a red and white cane or a guide dog with a red and white harness is a deafblind person. This fact is not that readily known - but you know now don't you? Other countries use different methods to distinguish the difference between blind and deafblind people. I believe that the Guide Dog Association for the Blind has now withdrawn the red and white harness from use. I don't understand why this is but they must have a good reason.
My hobby is working with my computers, and learning more about the latest technology advances that are happening almost every day. After all if it wasn't for the advancement of technology then I wouldn't have been able to create A-Z to Deafblindness on the Net.
For you the equipment that is sitting on your desk in front of you is just a metal frame with some plastic around it and some boards that are within the unit.
For me however, computers are my GATEWAY to the outside world. Like many other deafblind and blind people on the Net, I can access information, such as the newspapers, magazines, especially PC magazines, but they just usually give little extracts from a PC magazine, although that's better than nothing. There are also many great archives of the great classic books on the Net. You may be saying to yourself so what, but to people like myself who cannot have access to such material it's great. The Net to us is like our public library, and it is our corner shop to get our newspapers as well.
I have been on the Net for well over Ten years now. I have taught myself all about computers, but am still learning more and more every day. Some people find it very hard to believe that people like myself are capable of creating and maintaining a web site. I made A-Z to Deafblindness on my own without the help of anyone. I also own another web site about Deafblindness called "A Deafblindness Web Resource". The URL to the site is http://www.deafblind.co.uk. As you can now guess, I do keep myself busy and the old brain going.
Sometimes people can only see a person's disability, They are blinding themselves with their own prejudices, A person's true strength is within them,
So if you are a deafblind person or blind person reading this page, then come on and try and put a website on the Net, There are many of us out there who have done just that.
Now for the information which you have visited A-Z to Deafblindness for.
Deafblindness is sometimes known as dual sensory impairment or multi-sensory impairment and is more than a combination of visual and hearing impairments.
Deafblind people may not be totally deaf and totally blind. Many of the UK's 23,000 deafblind people have some remaining hearing and vision. Some, though, have nearly complete loss of both senses.
95% of what we learn about ourselves and the world around us comes through our sight and hearing. Lacking these two "distance senses", deafblind people find that their mobility, communication and access to information is usually greatly affected.
We often need the services of our local deafblind organizations.
These could be Deafblind UK, or The National Deafblind and Rubella Association,
(SENSE) when we have to attend a doctors appointment or visit family, friends,
or attend meetings of any sort or even just shopping.
Enter here for Deafblind organizations and groups in Britain.
One of the many resources which the above organizations
provide for us is the guide/communicator. This is a very important service,
as a guide/communicator is our eyes and ears when we are out together,
They can communicate with a deafblind person either with the deafblind
manual or by speech, or if the deafblind person has some sight then they
can communicate with British Sign Language ( BSL), but the majority of
deafblind people use the deafblind manual.
If you want to learn more about the Deafblind Manual or learn how it works then enter here. It's quite easy to learn, so come on and give it a try.
The Guide/Communicator is a person who has been fully trained by a deafblind organization. They have to sit exams and are trained to a very high standard, before they are allowed to guide people. They are very friendly and pleasant people to know, and particularly very helpful people, as nothing is ever too much trouble for them.
There was a speech in the house of Lords, by Lord Ashley
of Stoke asking Her Majesty's Government how many people in the United
Kingdom were both deaf and blind, and how many of them have communication
If you would like to read Lord Ashley's speech then please just enter here.
Most deafblind people can read braille. Braille is a medium
which allows a non-sighted person to read text by touch, and is also a
method for writing tactile text. The braille code is physically presented
as raised dots, usually arranged in cells.
Enter here to learn more about braille and the equipment we use to write it.
Many people know about the braille system of reading by
touch, but fewer have heard of Moon. This is a simple method based upon
the standard alphabet and many deafblind people around the world use this
form of writing and reading, especially elderly people who have lost their
sight and hearing in later life, and find it easier to learn moon than
If you want to read more about moon, then please just enter here.
On the subject braille, many people often wonder how we can use a computer, and are able to access the Internet. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways- some deafblind and blind people can access the computer through a speech synthesizer. A deafblind person can use a speech synthesizer as well There is equipment that can boost the synthesizers volume to a higher level which then will allow a deafblind person to be able to hear the synthesizer a little.
Many deafblind and blind computer users would prefer to use a different system than a speech Synthesizer. These systems are called refreshable braille displays, and are far more superior than a speech synthesizer, but the one big drawback of this equipment is the price tag that comes with it. The starting price can be about four thousand pounds and as much as eight thousand pounds for the 80 sell display version. I think that this would be probably the price of a small family car in the United Kingdom. If an organization bought one for a person they would have to add V.A.T. Value-Added Tax onto the price as well.
I think you would agree that these devices are pretty
expensive for the average deafblind or blind person, and they are out of
reach for many of us.
If you would like to read more about braille displays just enter here.
Not every deafblind person is interested in computers, but like us all, we have to communicate with others who could be anywhere in the United Kingdom. Deaf people can use a minicom which is a device that they can use as a telephone. Providing a deaf person phones his/her, deaf friend, then both of them can communicate with each other through a minicom. Many of you will know of these devices and what they do. They are more or less telephones, but both of them type their conversation, and the other will see it on their minicom display. You can even buy a compact version that will fit easily into a handbag or briefcase.
There was a similar device for deafblind people called
a TeleBraille. The TeleBraille enables a deafblind person and a person
using a TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) to communicate by
telephone. This important aid could also be used for face-to-face communications
between a deafblind person and a sighted person. The TeleBraille is sadly
no longer available but I believe that Blazie Engineering, Inc are developing
a new version. I hope that it is not long before it is available.
If you would like to find out more about the TeleBraille then please just enter here.
Sighted, deaf and hard of hearing people here in the United
Kingdom usually communicate using (BSL) British Sign Language, but they
also have the two- handed manual alphabet. This is similar to the Deafblind
Manual, but there are some signs that are different between them; some
of them are B,C, and G, because they can see each other. They use both
hands, but for deafblind people, it' usually someone spelling on just their
left hand. Because of this the signs that would be interpreted for a deaf
person, with the two handed version, has to be modified for a deafblind
Enter here to learn more about BSL and the history of Sign Language.
I also have some information about Sign Language Images
from around the world within this page,
so just enter here to learn Sign Languages from all around the world.. Now for a full text description of the Sign Language Alphabets.
Some deaf and hard of hearing people can suffer from a
disorder called Tinnitus. This is a condition where a noise is heard within
the head or ear and the only person who can hear the noise is the person
themselves. This I think would be a very annoying condition to have.
Again, if you would like to learn more about Tinnitus just enter here.
Some people are born deafblind, and others develop the condition over a certain number of years. Here is one of these reasons; they have a condition called Usher Syndrome. Usher Syndrome is an inherited condition which results in hearing loss and a progressive loss of vision from Retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
The hearing loss is thought to be congenital, and ranges
from moderate to profound. RP can occur without hearing loss. I have included
on this site a very detailed description of this condition and how it can
affect the person who has the condition. Mary Guest, Head of Usher Services
at Sense has written an excellent article about this condition. I certainly
couldn't have written such a detailed description of this condition as
Mary Guest has, and I would advise you to read this document as it's full
of very interesting information and she certainly knows what she's talking
If you would like to read Mary Guest's article then please just enter here.
There is another condition called Rubella which can cause
deafblindness in children. Rubella (German measles) is caused by a virus
which is spread by contact with discharges from nose or throat.
Again just enter here to find out more about Rubella.
Now for a controversial aid for deafblind people, deaf
or hard of hearing people, the cochlear implant. Many people are still
not sure about this yet - should they or shouldn't they have one. I know
a few people who have had the implant and they are quite happy with it.
It is said that there are currently over 6,000 adults and 4,000 children
and teenagers world-wide who are using a Nucleus Cochlear Implant System.
If you wish to learn more about the Cochlear Implant System then just enter here.
Now perhaps many of you reading this page may have already known about the Cochlear Implant System, and what great benefits the system offers to deaf people. What would you think about the Retinal Implant Project at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School?
The project seeks to develop a silicone chip eye implant that can restore vision for patients suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and Macular Degeneration. Retinitis Pigmentosa and Age-related Macular Degeneration are the leading causes of blindness throughout the world. This is a fascinating subject isn't it?
We are now in the twenty first century and are starting
to develop these ideas that could one day have silicone chips giving sight
to those with the above conditions. You wonder to yourself what would it
be like in another one hundred years from now. You could easily be forgiven
for thinking this idea for a chip implant was from a science fiction program,
perhaps a character from Star Trek, Next Generation. What do you think...?
It's truly wonderful what technology can do and what the future holds for
us with further technology advances.
To learn more about the Retinal Implant Project please just enter here.
When I put A-Z to Deafblindness on the Net at first at http://www.s55wilma.demon.co.uk, I was asked many times why did I have s55wilma as my email address. Once I explain why I had chosen this as my e-mail address, they asked why do I not put a picture of Wilma my guide dog on my pages. I don't like to personalise my pages too much. People visit my web pages for information about deafblindness, and not to read boring information about myself.
Working with graphical images is for me a horrible job which I try to avoid as much as possible because I don't know how they will look on pages. I try to avoid them, but as you probably have noticed there are some graphics on these pages. They are however very essential once such as Deafblind Manual Alphabet, to try and help sighted and hearing people learn from them. I have now added a new page with information about guide dogs, and with the help of a friend, Philip Nolan who helped me to create a graphic image of Wilma, my guide dog for my web pages. Philip helps me a lot with these graphics and if it wasn't for him you honestly wouldn't have seen them on A-Z to Deafblindness.
For more information about guide dogs, and about Wilma then just enter here.
I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading the articles above on this site. If you are interested, the rest of A-Z to Deafblindness has very interesting links to some excellent resources for people who are blind, deaf and deafblind,
I hope that I haven't been too boring, or gone on too much about a particular subject on these pages! It's quite difficult to try and get it just right, but if you do have some criticism about the information above, or you believe that there were mistakes made in an article by me, I will be more than happy to correct them. After all that is how we all learn, by our mistakes.
If you have any questions in any way that you wish to ask me, just send me an E-mail, my address is below. Well, when you are probably reading this page, I will more than likely be working on finding new resources and information for A-Z to Deafblindness.. .
Once again thank you for visiting A-Z to Deafblindness, I hope that you found some of the information useful and interesting.
All the very best to you.