DeafBlind Awareness Month

At Sign Language Blitz, we celebrate the resilience, ingenuity, and unique experiences of the Deafblind community. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the multifaceted world of Deafblindness, diving into the power of PTASL and Pro-Tactile, the evolving landscape of Deafblind technology, and the invaluable resources that foster empowerment and inclusion. 

Deafblindness: An Extraordinary Community

For starters, what is Deafblindness? 

Deafblindness is a distinctive sensory experience that intertwines hearing and vision challenges, giving rise to a remarkable community of individuals who navigate the world through touch, movement, and alternative forms of communication. Embracing both Deaf and Blind cultures, this community finds strength and identity in their dual sensory loss.

DeafBlind Intervener supporting a DeafBlind Child out of a car
A DeafBlind Support Provider supports a DeafBlind child when getting out of the car. (Image by Perkins School for the Blind)

Communication Unveiled: Pro-Tactile and PTASL

In the realm of Deafblind communication, there are various communication models. Two common ones are PT (Pro-Tactile), and PTASL (Pro-Tactile American Sign Language).

PTASL is a form of communication that involves using touch to convey information. In PTASL, the person who is DeafBlind places their hands on the hands of the signer to feel the signs. The signer signs ASL on the DeafBlind person’s hands. PTASL is often used by Deaf-Blind people, who have used ASL most of their lives before going fully blind. It’s common for Deaf-Blind people to be bilingual, meaning they communicate in both PT and ASL and choose to use a mix of them both. 

Pro-Tactile has its own system unrelated to American Sign Language. The sign space a lot smaller than PTASL and ASL. It is a rich and nuanced language that mainly focuses on touch, taps, and movements on the body, skin, and face. The Pro-Tactile signers do not rely on facial expressions because their grammatical system is limited to touch and movement only. A Deaf-Blind person that uses only Pro-Tactile might be someone who is not familiar with ASL, doesn’t use ASL at all, or has been raised with Pro-Tactile since childhood.

Two hands using PTASL and ProTactile for DeafBlind People
Pro-Tactile and PTASL are two forms of communication used by DeafBlind people. (Image by Perkins School for the Blind)

Empowering Deafblind Technology

Deafblind technology is revolutionizing accessibility and empowerment. Cutting-edge innovations such as haptic feedback devices, braille displays, and tactile graphics facilitate seamless communication, information access, and independent living. These technological marvels bridge gaps and empower Deafblind individuals to thrive in a world designed for sight and sound.

DeafBlind Electronic Vision Goggles
Another great technology is Vision Goggles. These goggles use cameras, image enhancers, image processing, magnification, and zoom to help the wearer see. (Image by Iris Vision)

Education, Advocacy, and Support

Deafblind education plays a vital role in fostering inclusivity and empowering individuals to reach their full potential. Dedicated educators, support professionals, and organizations work tirelessly to provide specialized instruction, adaptive tools, and resources that enable Deafblind individuals to access education, develop life skills, and embark on fulfilling learning journeys. DeafBlind people also have a shared cultural history, various historical figures, such as Helen Keller, and others that have paved the way for DeafBlind education and advocacy

A DeafBlind Person and their DeafBlind Support Service Person communicating
There are many support services and support groups for DeafBlind people out there. Some DeafBlind people have Support Service Providers or DeafBlind Interveners that provide one-on-one support services for daily living needs. (Image by DEAF Inc.)

DeafBlind Culture: Celebrating Diversity and Awareness

Deafblind culture is a tapestry of diverse perspectives, experiences, and identities. It encompasses unique art forms, vibrant social networks, and a shared commitment to advocacy. Deafblind awareness initiatives, events, and organizations shed light on the challenges faced by the community while celebrating their strengths, achievements, and contributions. 

A DeafBlind person and their Support Service provider communicating
One great social network for DeafBlind people is PT houses and buildings where everyone, including sighted individuals, can fully immerse themselves into the DeafBlind world. (Image by Perkins School for the Blind)

DeafBlind Access: Inclusion and Resources

Creating an inclusive society means removing barriers and ensuring access for all. From accessible transportation and public spaces to comprehensive accessibility policies, the goal is to enable Deafblind individuals to navigate the world with confidence and autonomy. Countless resources, including training programs, assistive technologies, and support services, foster independence and enhance the quality of life.

A DeafBlind person in a transit station with their cane.
A DeafBlind person stands in the transit station with their cane. (Image by The Good Men Project)

In the Deafblind world, we’ve witnessed the triumph of connection, the power of technology, and the beauty of culture. The Deafblind community reminds us that inclusion is not a mere concept but a shared responsibility. Together, let’s continue to amplify their messages, embrace their experiences, and work towards a society that uplifts and supports all individuals, regardless of sensory abilities.

Remember, the world may be diverse, but our determination to foster understanding and inclusivity is universal.

If you’re interested in creating a more inclusive world for Deaf, Blind, and DeafBlind individuals, please consider trying our FREE ASL learning demo!


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