DeafBlind North Carolinians We Serve

The DeafBlind population is a very diverse group of people having a combination of hearing and vision loss in various degrees.  Hearing loss can range from mild to profound and types of vision loss can range from requiring large print to read, to being legally blind, to no light perception and totally blind. Other factors can contribute to vision loss such as having visual field loss, sensitivity to light, night blindness, color blindness, and contrast sensitivity issues. 

This population includes four subsets, yet within each subset there is still a great range of diversity.  The four subsets are: 

  • Individuals born Deaf or Hard of Hearing then lose their vision later in life either gradually or suddenly due to injury, an illness or other condition
  • Individuals born Blind or vision-impaired and then later lose their hearing
  • Individual born DeafBlind or became DeafBlind during infancy/early childhood, therefore being familiar with the lack of vision and hearing for most of their life.
  • Individuals born with normal hearing and vison and then either gradually or suddenly lose their vision and hearing later in life.

The majority of the DeafBlind population may not identify as being DeafBlind, due to acquiring the additional loss later in life. Our division believes in addressing the combination of vision and hearing loss together in a wholistic approach, which is more effective when providing services and access to communication.  

Communication 

The DeafBlind population uses a variety of ways to receive and express communication depending on the primary language learned, onset and severity of hearing and vision loss.

For example, a person born profoundly Deaf, may grow up learning sign language, which is a visual language. When vision loss occurs, depending on the severity and rate of progression, will adopt other ways to receive sign language such as up close, in restricted signing space, or by tracking of the signs with their hands, or tactually feeling the signs.

Those born Hard of Hearing or with normal hearing usually learn spoken language and when hearing loss occurs, they adopt other ways to receive the spoken language such as lipreading, amplification technology and text/captioning. To accommodate for vision loss, text/captioning can be made accessible through Braille, large font sizes or use of different color fonts and backgrounds. When remaining vision is used to access sign language or lipreading, adjustments in lighting and use of contrasting color backdrops can make it possible to see sign language or read lips more effectively.

Additional Resources

2022 DeafBlind Awareness Month Proclamation

2022 DeafBlind Awareness Month: Accessibility and Inclusion Open Doors for DeafBlind Community

National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program