Sometimes a discussion raises the question of what is worse to endure: living with deafness or blindness. Apart from the fact that I find this question awful, because both seem to me a horror, I could not answer it, even if I wanted to. Both are impairments that fundamentally affect your life and both can isolate you. Now mankind in general is inclined to experience the worst you can feel about your own body. Of course, it is especially difficult to put yourself in someone else’s position if you do not have this impairment yourself. Personally, however, I am convinced of the statement:”Blindness isolated from things, deafness isolated from people”.
I do not intent to be negative with this contribution. On the contrary, I would just like to briefly draw your attention to a rare disease that affects both eyes and ears. Those affected by the “Usher syndrome” are often restricted in hearing and sight at an early age and can become completely deaf and blind. The disease is genetically determined and there no medication or healing. Only a part of the affected persons retain residual hearing and/or vision.
There is no question that communication with those affected is often severely restricted. Nevertheless, many of those affected manage to stand in life. There are people with Usher syndrome who work and have a social life. Sometimes a CI operation can improve your hearing so that you can at least hear if your eyes get worse.
If you want to know more about this disease, there are several good websites with information.
So, in my opinion, instead of discussing here the question of what is worse, it is better to discuss the question of what we, as a society, can do better to support the hearing-impaired and visually impaired to lead an independent life.
For me, there are three key words in this discussion: understanding, information and (help for) self-help.
Understanding and acceptance of the impaired sounds logical, but it is far from being so. As long as, for example, a good hearing person does not even inquire about what it takes to be able to communicate well with a person with hearing impairment, or if the person with hearing impairment does not inform the goodhearing person sufficiently what it takes for communication with him/her, misunderstandings will remain.
Understanding therefore requires a lot of clarification and information. And by that I mean information on all fronts. Without information, society does not change and without change of society politics does not change, and so on.
The affected persons themselves need support above all to continue to help themselves. This means that experiences should be increasingly exchanged, that more and more useful information should be released and that, in turn, also will lead to more understanding and clarification.
I would like to cordially invite you to contribute to this discussion. Constructive discussions are welcome and even necessary.