Working with Individuals Who Are Deaf-Blind: A Course for Mental Health Professionals
Introduction to Course
This course provides mental health professionals with information and resources that will help them assist individuals who are deaf-blind and their support network as they adjust to a dual sensory loss and the impact it has on their life including change of identity, role in the family, communication and social interactions. Their support network may include members of their family, friends, the community, and their coworkers. Strategies and helpful tips will be illustrated throughout the modules.
The course is divided into 5 modules. It is recommended that the user complete all of the modules and that the modules be followed in the order listed on the platform. The 5 modules include:
- Rapport Building and Positive Connections: The Role of the Mental Health Professional
- Introduction to Deaf-Blindness and Etiologies
- Communicating with Individuals who are Deaf-Blind
- Ensuring Equal Access and Participation
- Possible Psychological Implications of Deaf-Blindness
Throughout this training series, we use the term deaf-blind to refer to a diverse population of individuals with varying degrees of combined vision and hearing loss. Helen Keller National Center has historically followed the guidelines that the consumer organization, American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB) established by using the term “deaf-blind.” Recently, AADB changed its use of the term to “DeafBlind.” HKNC is a federally funded agency authorized by the US Congress and, therefore, does not have the authority to change their use of the term deaf-blind to DeafBlind. HKNC recognizes the value behind the term DeafBlind, that each person’s experience is unique and includes much more than his or her vision and hearing loss. HKNC continues to align its philosophy and services with this meaning and recognizes the community’s preference for the term DeafBlind. HKNC continues to work with federal authorities to change the term from deaf-blind to DeafBlind.
Video: Introduction to Course: Bryen Yunashko
Introduction to Course
Hello! My name is Bryen and I am deaf-blind. In a professional capacity, I have worked with various groups of deaf-blind individuals. I also receive services from a mental health professional.
Through my experience of working and being a part of the deaf-blind community I have come to learn that you have to approach each person as a unique individual. As mental health professionals, this program will teach you how to interact with deaf-blind clients and what resources are available for you and your clients.
Often, deaf-blind people live in isolation. As these individuals face difficult situations they frequently don’t have anyone to process with or turn to. This can cause frustrations and difficulties to build up within the person. This makes your role as a mental health professional all the more important. You will be there to listen and the one they turn to. This program will teach you how to both listen and respond to deaf-blind individuals. It will also teach you how to find salient resources, the different roles that families can play in the life of an individual who is deaf-blind, how their cultural identity comes into play, why the onset of their vision and hearing matter, and other various factors that may impact a deaf-blind person’s life.
It’s crucial that mental health professionals really understand that the deaf-blind population is unlike any other population. There are so many factors that can affect their mental health and your work with them. I hope you enjoy the program.