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Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Major Difference - Guest Blogger 01

Here is another great blog by Holly Alonzo. Do you agree? As
Holly herself says, this post opens up a major can of worms.

This is something I struggle with, since technically I am not
deaf - not completely. Although, what little hearing I do have
is not usable at all.

There seems to be some misunderstanding in the two situations of
being deaf-sight and deaf-blind. I will try to clarify what I

Being deaf-sighted is a little harder on a person, but still
manageable. Being deaf-blind totally isolates a person.

I know the legal definition of "blind" includes those who have
low vision. But, in my opinion, if you can see well enough to
read printed you are not blind.

Myself and my husband, we are blind. Pitch black. Nothing. No
print, not our son, not anything. This is why a totally blind
person relies on their hearing so much. It is what they have.

A normal person with vision would not understand the things that
a blind person relying on their hear, not their eyes, will
figure out. For instance, traffic.

The way a blind person knows it is ok to cross the street is
either to listen for an "all clear" when it's totally silent, or
listen for the parallel traffic to go. When they go, you do too.
You do wait a few seconds to make sure they are not turning in
front of you, but then once you hear them go straight, you cross
the street safely.

All of a sudden, a blind person who has come to rely on hearing,
loses it. No phone conversations, no music, no audio books, no
concerts, no talking during dinner, silence. The only time
deaf-blind knows anything is when someone touches them and tells

Then comes the communication issues. Deaf-sighted can carry
around a small notepad, or notebook and pen, which people can
write messages to them to let them know what they are saying.
But a deaf-blind person can not do this because they have no way
of reading the message that was written.

If the deaf-blind person is able to read "print-on-palm" that is
one method. But you would be surprised at how many people will
walk off without answering you, or don't want to take the time to
do it. This method is simple where the deaf-blind person hold
their hand out flat, and the other person uses their finger as a
pencil and draws the letter in the deaf-blind person's palm.
Some people write too small. Some people write too fast.
Sometimes the deaf-blind person simple can't grasp the shape of
the print letter.

Even though I know print, and can write just fine, I have a lot
of trouble with print on palm. It takes me a long time to
understand it. So, it is not a reliable form of communication for
me, and many others.

Not a lot of the general public can sign, even finger spell.
There is what they call the manual alphabet, but you would have
to explain to the person how to do it, and there again. They
don't want to take the time to learn it, or even both with
telling you what they started to in the first place. What's a
deaf-blind person to do for communication?

Well, HumanWare, an assistive technology company, has developed a
deaf blind communicator. This allows TTY access, Face-to-face
communication, and SMS text messaging. It opens up a whole world
to the deaf-blind person. They aren't so isolated anymore. They
feel just a little normal.

With the face-to-face communication, you hand a cell phone with a
qwerty keyboard to the other person. They type their message and
it is then send to your device which you can then read in
braille. The problem with technology, especially this one, is
that many deaf-blind people do not have access to it. It is very

Unless the person can get funding for the technology, or can
afford it on their own, they do not get the luxury of "the easy"

So, see? There's a major difference here. Being just blind can
manage. Being just deaf can manage. It's when you have not only
one, but two sensory losses that makes it nearly impossible to

Holly Alonzo <
May God grant me the strength to accept what I can not change.

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