Helping children to understand deafblindness

Corinne showing a child how to use a pen reader

We relish opportunities to promote awareness about dual sensory loss and to help other people to understand what our members are going through. Recently, Community Engagement Officer, Corinne, along with Deafblind UK member, John, visited their local primary school to talk to the children about sight and hearing loss.

Corinne said: “John often finds it frustrating when people don’t understand deafblindness, so we really wanted to encourage the children to talk to their parents and grandparents about sight and hearing loss and also to plant a seed for the future.”

In a bid to help the children understand what living with sight and hearing loss is really like, Corinne introduced John to the children in an assembly. She explained what it means to be deafblind; that some people can be deafblind but do actually have some sight and hearing and that people don’t always look deafblind. John talked about living with sight and hearing loss and showed the children some of his equipment, such as his talking watch.

Teacher Mrs Dickson said: “The children came back from assembly and were very excited. They said that they now realise how lucky they are and that they will appreciate the things they take for granted; it made them think!”

In order to really comprehend dual sensory loss, it is important that the children had the opportunity to experience it for themselves so Corinne held some interactive sessions with the children where they learned Deafblind Manual and had a go at pouring a drink with a blindfold on. “The older children picked up Deafblind Manual really quickly and were spelling their names out after just two run throughs of the alphabet! I wish I still had that sponge brain!” Said Corinne.

Mrs Mellor commented: “It was an excellent session which the children thoroughly enjoyed. The interactive parts were fascinating giving the children the opportunity to experience something difficult to comprehend.” And the children thought so too, saying: “Excellent, I loved it! It made us aware of blind people and their lives.”

For the children, meeting a deafblind person and seeing for themselves how people live with such conditions really hit home. Mrs Dickson told us: “The children came back from the assembly really reflective, one child said “I’m sad because I’ve realised I didn’t know how lucky I was.”

One young boy’s parents told us: “My son has been talking about his day for the last 15 minutes. Well done. He learnt so much today!”

Spending the day at the school was the perfect opportunity for John to get involved in raising awareness himself. Corinne said: “It was empowering for John to have the chance to talk about a cause that he feels so strongly about. He relished the opportunity to impact the children and to change the way they see the world.”

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