person who is deaf-blind must somehow make sense of the
world using the limited information available to him or
her. If the person's sensory disabilities are great, and
if people in the environment have not made an effort to
order the world for him or her in a way that makes it easier
to understand, this challenge may be overwhelming.
Behavioral and emotional difficulties
often accompany deaf-blindness and are the natural outcomes
of the child's or adult's inability to understand and communicate.
People who can see and hear often take
for granted the information that those senses provide. Events
such as the approach of another person, an upcoming meal,
the decision to go out, a change in routine are all signaled
by sights and sounds that allow a person to prepare for
them. The child or adult who misses these cues because of
limited sight and/or hearing may come to experience the
world as an unpredictable, and possibly a threatening place.
To a great extent, persons who are deaf-blind
must depend upon the good will and sensitivity of those
around them to make their world safe and understandable.
The challenge of learning to communicate
is perhaps the greatest one that children who are deaf-blind
face. It is also the greatest opportunity, since communication
and language hold the power to make their thoughts, needs,
and desires known. The ability to use words can also open
up worlds beyond the reach of their fingertips through the
use of interpreters, books, and an ever-increasing array
of electronic communication devices.
In order to learn language, children who
are deaf- blind must depend upon others to make language
accessible to them. Given that accessibility, children who
are deaf-blind face the challenges of engaging in interactions
to the best of their abilities and of availing themselves
of the language opportunities provided for them.
A person who is deaf-blind also faces
the challenge of learning to move about in the world as
freely and independently as possible. Adult individuals
also must eventually find adult living and work situations
that allow them to use their talents and abilities in the
best way possible.
Many adults who are deaf-blind lead independent
or semi-independent lives and have productive work and enjoyable
social lives. The achievement of such success depends in
large part upon the education they have received since childhood,
and particularly upon the communication with others that
they have been able to develop.