Jun 18 2013

Deaf-Blindness

Published by at 11:17 pm under Online Dating Experience

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, staff writer at DeafandHoH.com

I recently finished a week-long stint as a volunteer SSP (Support Service Provider) at a deaf-blind camp in Maryland.  Essentially, SSPs serve as a bridge between deaf-blind clients and their environment, often through tangible means, such as tactile sign language or physical guidance.

The campers themselves exhibited a wide range of visual and hearing ability with some who were partially blind and completely deaf; some who were partially deaf and completely blind campers; and some who could hear or see nothing.  My particular camper fell in the first category—he could only see high-contrast images at a few inches away from his face—and we primarily used tactile sign language.  Needless to say, the lack of vision entailed some creative adaptations on each SSP’s part—often in ways that we didn’t quite expect.  For instance, because he couldn’t see my face or body language, I constantly had to think of other ways to convey emotion or facial expressions (an essential component of American Sign Language).

Nevertheless, I found the experience extremely rewarding, even as I struggled with my own fears of becoming deaf-blind.  These campers, in a very real way, made their own fun and happiness.  They were probably among the least self-conscious people I’ve ever met, and their genuineness quickly endeared them to us SSPs.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with deaf-blind people, or with being deaf-blind yourself.  Do you have any experience with SSPs, tactile/protactile signing, close-range voicing, Braille, or other accommodations for the deaf-blind?  How do you feel about deaf-blindness—does it scare you, or is it just another adaptation?  Tell us all about it at this Wednesday’s Open Chat Night!

You can also post in the forum under Deaf-Blindness.

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