Deafblind Awareness Week

reachout.gifThis week is Deafblind Awareness Week.

Local authorities have a legal duty to provide appropriate services for Deafblind people. Only 4% of the UK’s 23,000 Deafblind people are in receipt of these services. Source: Sense

Under s7 Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 the Department of Health issued a guidance Social Care for Deafblind Children and Adults (LAC 2001 (8)) to:

– Identify, make contact with and keep a record of deafblind people in their catchment area (including those who have multiple disabilities including dual sensory impairment);

– Ensure that an assessment is carried out by a specifically trained person/team, equipped to assess the needs of a deafblind person – in particular to assess need for one-to-one human contact, assistive technology and rehabilitation;

– Ensure that appropriate services are provided to deafblind people, who are not necessarily able to benefit from mainstream services or those services aimed primarily at blind people or deaf people who are able to rely on their other senses;

– Ensure they are able to access specifically trained one-to-one support workers for those people they assess as requiring one;

– Provide information about services in formats and methods that are accessible to deafblind people;

– Ensure that one member of senior management includes, within his/her responsibilities, overall responsibility for deafblind services.

Further information can be found on the Sense; Deafblind UK and Usher UK websites.

EU Written Declaration on Deafblind People

Deafblindness is now a distinct disability, recognised by the European Union. A written declaration has been signed by 323 members, ensuring that the declaration was adapted on the 1 April 2004.

This has to be a significant move for Deafblind people across the EU, who may not necessary enjoy distinct recognition of their needs in their respective countries, and may too frequently get clumped with Deaf or blind people.

The declaration calls for access plus the right for Communicator-Guides.

From a legal perspective, one would hope this is the first step in exercising EU legal instruments, and a directive is eventually issued.

However, it is recognised as a positive step and it can be utilised by deafblind people across the EU, to push for enhanced provision in their own countries. For it to be simply forgotten about, as what happened with sign languages, would be simply shooting opportunity in the foot.