This week, 27 June to 3 July, is Deafblind Awareness Week. Did you know that over 400,000 people in the UK are living with combined sight and hearing loss? Deafblindness can affect anyone, and you can be born deafblind or develop sight and hearing loss as you get older.
Deafblindness can range from struggling to see and hear the TV right through to not being able to see or hear anything at all. However, many people with deafblindness are able to hear and/or see something. Deafblindness affects everyone in different ways.
With the right support, people living with deafblindness can live more independently, with greater confidence and increased control. One of our recent funded projects, delivered by Look UK, supported Chloe. Chloe had just turned 13 and was born deafblind.
Moving to secondary school was hard for Chloe. She felt misunderstood by her peers and was often left out in the playground. She struggled to understand what was being said by her teachers and couldn’t easily articulate how hard she found the lessons. Chloe’s mum, Jane, became concerned:
“Chloe didn’t talk about it openly, but I heard from a friend that she was crying in the toilets at break and lunch…She felt sick of herself, and I was desperately worried.”
Jane reached out to the Vision Foundation’s delivery partner, Look UK. Chloe joined a Vision Foundation funded mentoring programme, which links visually impaired children with young adult mentors for advice and support. Chloe was paired with Andrea, who is also deafblind and understood exactly what Chloe was going through. They chatted every week.
Over time, Andrea was able to build up Chloe’s confidence, encouraging her to let people know what she needed, and how to ask for support. Chloe found her voice again. She’s joined a local youth club and is making new friends.
“Andrea seemed to unlock something in Chloe, and she started to talk. It was a light bulb moment.…[We] are so grateful to Andrea…. for helping our daughter hold her head up high again.” Jane, Chloe’s Mum.
Thanks to the support of the project, Chloe has newfound confidence. Our latest project with Look UK plans to build a community of 30 mentors (adults with sight loss who may or may not be in employment), and 40 mentees (younger peers living with sight loss).
The Vision Fund offers grants for projects supporting blind and partially sighted people. Our latest round is now open to applications! Find out more here.
You can find out more about Deafblind Awareness Week here.