As Deafblind Awareness Week approaches, we are offered another reminder of how eye and hearing care align
16 June 2022
Deafblind Awareness Week 2022 is running from 27 June – 3 July, offering those within the optometry and audiology professions a chance to address misconceptions surrounding the conditions they treat.
Ahead of the week, charity Deafblind UK is encouraging the public to get ‘In the know’ about deafblindness, raising awareness of the multiple different ways the condition can affect people from all walks of life.
One misconception the charity wants to debunk is that deafblindness always means a complete loss of sight, along with a complete loss of hearing.
The charity will be doing various things to push this message during the week, including encouraging those living with the condition to create videos highlighting their experiences, and sharing guidance on how to make life easier for those living with deafblindness.
This spring, Deafblind UK also launched an employment skills programme, which “aims to motivate people who have sight and hearing loss to find paid employment, voluntary work or training.” Of the estimated 100,000 deafblind working age adults in the UK only 20% are in employment, the charity said.
Deafblind UK has also shared the story of Hertfordshire graphic designer Asia, who is frequently told that she doesn’t “look” deafblind. She calls it “a huge spectrum.”
While there are still huge misconceptions around deafblindness, deafness itself has found itself part of the public conversation over the past year – largely due to two of the country’s most popular TV shows.
ITV2 dating behemoth Love Island has a contestant this year who was born fully deaf and has a cochlear implant, which is frequently visible on screen – hopefully providing an opportunity for misconceptions around deafness to be talked about nationally in the coming weeks.
This representation follows the success of actor Rose Ayling-Ellis in Strictly Come Dancing, and that striking moment of silent dance that stopped the nation in its tracks on a cold Saturday night in November last year. In May, the dance was voted the public's favourite TV moment of 2021 and took home a BAFTA.
From a business perspective, deafness and hearing care are subjects that OT has been covering more and more recently, as practices look to diversify the services that they can offer their patients.
In April, we covered how practices can incorporate audiology into their practices in a bespoke way, with eye care scheme provider Eyeplan. We also discussed the ways that audiology providers and independent practices can work together effectively, and highlighted how, off the High Street, Specsavers is incorporating hearing care into its Home Visits service.
It seems that Deafblind Awareness Week as a perfect opportunity to think about, and wherever possible start to open up a conversation around, the spectrum of hearing loss and how optometry can assist those who are affected by it – whether existing patients or those that we can help in the future.
Online resources for Deafblind Awareness Week 2022 are available here. To be involved with the conversation during the week, follow #DeafblindAwarenessWeek on social media.