Although it is a rare condition, New Zealand is inhabited by over thousands of deaf blind people, whose primary disability involves dual sensory loss. This is a condition that could have several possible causes, the most common of which, is a genetic disorder known as Usher Syndrome. In such a scenario, a person might be born deaf blind, or born deaf and loses vision later in life, or born with normal vision and hearing but eventually loses both senses. Some other causes of dual sensory loss include birth trauma, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or severe accidents.
While it is evident that deaf blind people require constant support when it comes to communication and access, it might be a little overwhelming for family members or personal caregivers to dedicate the required time and effort. Fortunately, there are several support groups in New Zealand that help such people cope with their daily needs in an efficient manner. These foundations are usually non-governmental providing a wide range of facilities beginning from access services, through skills development, to awareness programs. Skilled support groups provide help with various chores of a person’s daily life such as using public transport, learning to communicate, adaptive daily living, and even using technology.
The New Zealand government supports deaf blind services through funding and recognition of its Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. The development of specialized support groups that include teachers, therapists, doctors, and house-helps, who are trained to help deaf blind people, is also part of the government funding. Apart from this, the Ministry of Health under the New Zealand government ensures their ‘Hearing and Vision Services’ department is always equipped with medical devices and accessories such as hearing aids, mobility canes, screen-reading software, and more.
Finding the right support system for a deaf blind person might take a bit of research, but help is always at hand that enables them to lead a fuller and more independent life.