Deafblind people have a combined sight and hearing loss, which leads to difficulties in communicating, mobility, and accessing information. Deafblind people (also called dual sensory impaired people) fall into four groups:
Those who are born deaf and blind, which can happen if the mother suffered Rubella (German Measles) during pregnancy.
Those who were born deaf and then lost their sight. This is often caused by Usher Syndrome – deafness followed by a decrease in sight because of retinitis pigmentosa (tunnel vision).
Those who were born blind and then lost their hearing.
Those who become deafblind, most commonly as a result of old age, or through an illness or accident.
How many people in the UK are deafblind? About 24,000 people in the UK are deafblind, but these figures do not take into account the large number of elderly people who are losing both their sight and hearing. The number of people with a combined sight and hearing loss could well be as high as 250,000.