Deaf AND Blind

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Deaf AND Blind
It’s difficult to imagine what it’s like to be deaf AND blind. With two of the five senses inoperative, we would have two choices: curl up and withdraw from life or bravely train the sense of touch to take over.

Years ago, I met a young woman who worked for a school that offered classes for the deaf and classes for the blind, and she taught the few pupils who were both deaf and blind. In that capacity, she enrolled them in a local art contest.

Preparing an art board for each child, she used tactile signing to give instructions, Helen Keller style. She gave each child a tube of glue and said something like, “draw some circles and lines on this board by squeezing this tube,” and she helped each student begin. When the glue dried, it formed solid raised edges, and, while feeling those glue ridges, each pupil colored within the sections of the design with random colored crayons.

This creative teacher entered the children’s art boards in a local art contest, and the group won recognition: the school was awarded a plaque for ingenuity. I can imagine each child taking his or her art piece home with his or her individual award: a huge chocolate candy bar to enjoy! [I have changed some of the details in this story to protect identities, but the event truly occurred.]

There is a chapter in my memoir about a blind and deaf man whom I personally befriended. His story is amazing and inspiring.