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Helen Keller still working for deafblind people

Helen Keller still working to promote inclusion of deafblind people in society

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you had limited sight and hearing?

Approximately 1500 deafblind New Zealanders experience this reality everyday and yet still manage the challenge to remain independent individuals. But they need public support to lead these full lives.

On June 27, Deafblind NZ Inc and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) are jointly promoting Helen Keller Communication Day.

President of Deafblind NZ Inc, Max Comer says “Helen Keller Communication Day aims to increase people’s understanding of deafblindness as a dual sensory impairment. The awareness day also shows others that having both low vision and hearing is no barrier to leading a full, independent life.

“We really want to encourage the wider public to include deafblind people into their lives, in either sport or recreation activities, or in employment, as fully able members of society.”

One of the toughest barriers deafblind people face is the misconception that being deafblind means that they have no sight or hearing at all, and cannot communicate with others.

In fact, most deafblind people have some useful vision or hearing, and can use aids to boost the hearing and vision they have.

Communicating with deafblind people is also not as difficult as some people might imagine. Depending upon the level of each individual’s hearing and vision, they may use one or more different ways to communicate, including lip-reading, sign language, the deafblind manual alphabet and writing letters on the palm of the hand.

This year, Deafblind NZ Inc and the RNZFB ask that the wider community, including employers, ignore the misconceptions they might have about deafblindness and instead reach out to engage deafblind people in their communities.

Profiles of four deafblind New Zealanders and background information about deafblindness can be found on the RNZFB website at: http:// http://www.rnzfb.org.nz/Media/media_releases.html.

Those who are interested in volunteering to help deafblind people can call RNZFB Deafblind Services on 0800 243 333 for more information.

Max Comer, President of Deafblind NZ Inc can be contacted at ph: (07)843 4477, fax: (07)843 5977 or e-mail: max.jan@xtra.co.nz.

Arm in arm we walk together - hand on hand we talk together Helen Keller Deafblind Communication Day 27 June 2003

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