'Dual sensory impairment' refers to people who have both sight loss and hearing loss. It is sometimes also called 'deafblindness', though some people only use this to refer to more severe impairments. Between nine and 21 per cent of adults over 70 have some level of dual sensory impairment.
People can acquire these impairments at different stages. Some people might be born deaf and blind, while others might be born with one impairment and develop a second impairment later on.
People also vary in how impaired each sense is. Some might have more abilities in one sense than another. Everyone will have different strengths and weaknesses with their vision and hearing. Because there is so much variation, strategies for living with dual sensory impairment are different for different people.
Some people are reluctant to ask for help, especially if they aren't aware of the help that is available to them. There are some warning signs that someone you know might be struggling with dual sensory impairment. Examples include:
they can't hear the doorbell or the phone ringing
you have to speak loudly for them to understand you
they have to have the TV up very loud
they have difficulty reading or looking at pictures
they need help going out and getting around places
they struggle to find lost items and may use their hands to try to find them
It can be hard to try to communicate and care for someone with dual sensory impairment, but there are a few things that can help such as:
touch them on the shoulder to get their attention before you start to speak to them
ask them how best to communicate with them - people have different levels of sensory impairments, and what might work for one person may not work for someone else.
face them when you talk and keep your face in good lighting
talk slowly and try to use short, simple sentences
if using writing, write clearly and in large capital letters
make sure there are no tripping hazards that they may not be able to see
There is a lot of equipment that can be used to help with everyday tasks such as:
hearing the doorbell
using the phone (textphone and videophone)
alerting you to smoke, fire and other dangers
reading documents including having information provided in large print or Braille, or having a computer readinformation aloud to you at a volume you can hear).
The Disability Living Foundation's Living Made Easy website provides information on the types of equipment available.
To contact your local council and request a specialist assessment in relation to your dual sensory impairment:-
Kensington and Chelsea
Address: The Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX Tel (voice): 020 7361 2968 Minicom: 020 7937 7232 SMS: 07980 211335 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 020 7361 2148