Deaf-Blind Disabilities

A person who is deafblind cannot see or hear to some extent. This results in greater difficulties in accessing information and managing daily activities. Most people who are deafblind will be accompanied by an intervener, a professional who helps with communicating. Interveners are trained in special sign language that involves touching the hands of the client in a two-hand, manual alphabet or finger spelling, and may guide and interpret for their client. 

Here are some suggestions to help you interact with people who are deafblind: 

  • Make no assumptions about what a person can or cannot do. Some deaf-blind people have some sight or hearing, while others have neither. 
  • Avoid referring to the disability or using phrases like “handicapped”. 
  • A deaf-blind person is likely to explain to you how to communicate with them or give you an assistance card or a note explaining how to communicate with them. 
  • Speak directly to the person, as you normally would, not to the intervener. 
  • Identify yourself to the intervener when you approach the person who is deaf-blind. 
  • Don’t touch service animals – they are working and have to pay attention at all times. 
  • Unless it’s an emergency, refrain from touching a deaf-blind person without permission. 


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