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 As less than 2% of the world’s population experiences both deafness and blindness, this is a unique experience that comes with a myriad of challenges to overcome. In the United States, approximately 10,000 young people (ages birth to 22) have been identified as DeafBlind, and another 30,000 adults live with this dual sensory loss. 

DeafBlind Awareness Week was established to bring recognition to those who are living with this condition and to also garner support through community and national advocacy and awareness efforts.

History of DeafBlind Awareness Week

DeafBlind Awareness Week got its start at least four decades ago when it was declared by US President Ronald Reagan, through a presidential proclamation in 1984. The event was founded as a national advocacy campaign with the purpose of increasing public knowledge and drawing attention to the achievements of deaf-blind people, as well as raising support for the special needs of the people in this community.

DeafBlind Awareness Week takes place during the last week of June, with a nod to Helen Keller, the famous American activist who was both deaf and blind, and whose birthday falls on June 27. The organizers of this event work to promote a better understanding of the challenges that deafblind individuals face, and also celebrate the different ways that contribute to society.

How to Observe DeafBlind Awareness Week

Consider Some of these ideas for celebrating and participating in DeafBlind Awareness Week:

Look Into Resources for DeafBlind Families

Families or community members who know a person who lives with DeafBlindness can check into various resources that are available specifically for this condition. Or, some people may be interested in becoming an expert teacher, therapist or other part of the team of people who work with those who are DeafBlind, and these resources may help with research and the pursuit of this education.

Support a DeafBlind Charity

Those who don’t personally know a person who is DeafBlind can still participate by making a contribution to one of the charities that works to support those who live with and overcome the obstacles of being both hearing and vision impaired. Check out the links above to find ways to get involved through making a donation or to act as a volunteer.

Get Inspired By DeafBlind People

Arguably the most famous DeafBlind person in the world, Helen Keller made an impact on society in a huge range of ways, in spite of the challenges and obstacles she faced. Those who are interested in knowing more of her story can do so by watching one of the versions of the films (The Miracle Worker – 1962 and 2000) made about her life and her helper, Annie Sullivan.

Another person who might be inspiring is Haben Girma, who was the first DeafBlnd person to graduate from Harvard Law School. With a family background in wartorn Eritrea, Girma became a disability justice lawyer and advocate. Describing her disability as an opportunity for innovation, Girma’s autobiography is titled Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law.

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