Abstract of Y. Lifschitz lecture


Y. Lifschitz, E.A. Kabakov, Y. Bibas
Center for Deaf-Blind Persons Beth David Institute, Israel

Appropriate accessibility truly empowers the individual with deafblindness,
provides a fair chance to participate freely and actively and
impacts society’s perception of them. Inappropriate means of
communication leaves these individuals isolated, frustrated and often
with a feeling of personal failure. It is therefore critical to choose wisely
among the many options and to consider the nature of the activity as
well as the individuals’ current level of vision/hearing. Methods of
communication with deaf-blind individuals include Israeli Sign
Language (visually, tactile or a combined method), speech, lip reading
(using residual hearing or TADOMA), codes (finger spelling or
printing-on-palm, communication board, Lorm or various Braille
methods) and amplification systems. In many instances appropriate
accessibility changes experiences from passive to active and even
allows deaf-blind people to take charge and lead, sometimes for their
first time, instead of stumbling along after the leader and missing most
of the information presented. For example, a woman had visited a site
three times in the past without appropriate accessibility. Each time,
she had meekly absorbed partial information. Then, when she went
with the right amplification system she felt empowered, took the
transmitter and began to explain the site to the group. The event
changed her whole perspective and she declared that she would no
longer settle for minimal communication on trips with her family. The
effect of open communication goes beyond the individual and affects
the way society perceives them when for the first time they freely
express opinions and needs, just like their hearing-sighted peers.

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