What is sensory impairment?
Sensory impairment is when one of your senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and spatial awareness, is no longer normal.
Examples - If you wear glasses you have a sight impairment , if you find it hard to hear or have a hearing aid then you have a hearing impairment.
A person does not have to have full loss of a sense to be sensory impaired.
What is dual sensory impairment?
It is the combination of both hearing and sight impairment. It is not necessarily a total loss of both senses – indeed the majority of dual sensory impaired people do have some degree of sight and/or hearing. Those with a less severe degree of both sight and hearing impairment may also be referred to as having a dual sensory impairment or loss. The words dual sensory impaired and deafblind are generally accepted as inter-changeable words.
When a person has difficulties seeing and hearing then the person can be termed deafblind. Although it is more common to refer to someone as being deafblind if there combined sight and hearing loss which causes difficulties for them with communication, mobility and access to information.
The combination of the two sensory impairments intensify the impact of each other, which usually means that a deafblind person will have difficulty, or find it impossible, to utilise and benefit fully from services for deaf people or services for blind people. Meeting the needs of deafblind people therefore requires a separate approach.
Deafblindness is a unique and extremely complex disability that often requires specialist communication methods and and systems being introduced to the person and those around them to enable communication to take place.
Deafblindness has adverse effects on all areas of development, in particular the language acquisition process, conceptual development, motor development, behaviour and personality of a person.
Updated June 2021