It's not always possible to treat the underlying causes of deafblindness, but a range of care and support services is available to help people with the condition.
Most deafblind people will still have some hearing or vision. The level of care and support they need will depend on the severity of their hearing and vision problems.
The individual abilities and needs of a deafblind person should be assessed soon after they're diagnosed. This will allow a tailored care plan to be drawn up.
The care plan will aim to:
Some of the main services, techniques and treatments that may be recommended as part of a care plan are outlined below.
As deafblindness can make communicating by speech and writing difficult, alternative forms of communication may be necessary.
The main communication systems used by deafblind people include:
For some deafblind people, it may be possible to improve vision using low vision aids, such as glasses, magnifying lenses and task lights.
Specially designed items, such as telephones and keyboards, may also help someone who is visually impaired.
Many libraries stock a selection of large-print books and "talking books", where the text is read aloud and recorded onto a CD. The RNIB also offers a talking book subscription service, where books can be ordered and delivered directly to your home or downloaded free of charge.
Some deafblind people may benefit from wearing a hearing aid. There are various hearing aid styles available to suit different types of hearing loss and personal preference.
Hearing aids use microphones to collect the sound from the environment, amplify it and deliver it into the ear canal of the wearer so that it can be processed by the auditory system. An audiologist (hearing specialist) will be able to recommend the most suitable type of aid after testing your hearing.
For some people, hearing aids that deliver the sound into the ear canal are not appropriate. In these cases, hearing may be improved using a surgically implanted hearing system, such as a cochlea implant or bone conducting hearing implant.
While these still use a microphone to collect the sound initially, they then convert that sound into either an electrical signal or vibration, passing it to the inner or middle ear for processing by the auditory system.
Every deafblind person is entitled to help from a specially trained one-to-one support worker if they need it.
Depending on the person's situation, this may be a:
Some conditions that affect hearing and vision can be treated using medication or surgery. For example:
If you're deafblind, or a friend or family member of someone who's deafblind, you may find it useful to contact a support group for information and advice.
You can contact Sense on 0300 330 9256 (voice and text calls), or by emailing: email@example.com.
You can contact Deafblind UK's helpline on 01733 358 100 (voice and text calls), or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.