It all started in 1928 when a small group of deafblind people and their carers founded the National Deaf Blind Helpers League, an organisation offering mutual support and understanding in the face of conditions they found ‘unjustifiably cruel and hard’. They worked with people who were deafblind, encouraging confidence and providing practical help. These are the same outcomes that matter to the people we support today, and they are encapsulated in our mission and service delivery.
In 1929 Braille Rainbow, the first magazine for deafblind people, was launched. During the Second World War, Rainbow was considered so important that it was one of very few publications exempt from paper rationing. Today, Rainbow is called Open Hand and is still produced by Deafblind UK.
After much campaigning and fundraising, the National Deafblind Helpers League built a complex of twelve flats at Rainbow Court in Peterborough in 1963. It was designed to enable deafblind adults to live independently – the only such development in the UK. Rainbow Court still provides supported living accommodation to those who need it and is also home to the National Centre for Deafblindness.
We are proud of our heritage but equally ambitious for our future. We have seen a lot of positive changes over the years, but for people living with deafblindness or varying degrees of dual sensory loss we’re entering a new era of possibilities and challenges. As an organisation, it is vital we continue to change and innovate to ensure our services meet the needs of our members and that we extend our reach to as many people with deafblindness or dual sensory loss and their families as possible.