Disabilities and sensory loss


BSL Support

This page tells you about deafblindness and what help is available and how to get it.

What is Deafblindness?

People are regarded as deafblind if 'their combined hearing and sight loss causes problems with mobility, communication and access to information’ (SENSE, 2002).

The group also includes people:

  • Born deafblind (congenitally deafblind)
  • Born deaf who later lose their vision
  • Born blind who later lose their hearing
  • Who acquire a sight and hearing loss, often in later life.

For older people deafblindness may be seen as part of the aging process and people fail to acknowledge the impact it has. It may not be the degree of vision or hearing difficulties that impact on your life, but the combination of both.

How it can affect you

Here are some tell-tale signs that may indicate you have vision or hearing difficulties or both:

  • Noticing yourself saying ‘I don’t hear well’ or ‘I’m having problems with my eyes’
  • Having difficulties crossing the road or using public transport
  • Bumping into things or knock things over or spill things
  • Needing more light for reading
  • Asking others to repeat things or speak loud, or mishear what they have said.

If you start to have these difficulties this can have significant consequences, such as loss of independence, social isolation, low self-worth, boredom, stress, depression, physical injuries or falls.

Who can help?

Firstly, it is important to rule out any undiagnosed medical conditions with your GP or Optometrist.

  • Your doctor/optometrist will look into your eyes and ears
  • They may refer you to the Audiology Department at the hospital and/or
  • They may refer you to the optometrist.

If your situation cannot be fully resolved by medical intervention or hearing aids, other help may be available.

What help can you get?

Enabled Living works on behalf of Newham Council and can provide support to manage the effects and impact of deafblindness. They work with you to provide support, advice, training and equipment.

They can help you to improve your ability to get around and manage your daily living tasks, plan routes and offer long cane training.

They work with you to understand your individual communication needs and help you develop alternative methods.

They can provide amplification equipment and other technology to assist you in accessing information whilst keeping you safe, independent and in control of your life. They also have strong links with specialist organisations we can refer customers on to for additional support.