RECOGNISING DEAFBLINDNESS AS A SEPERATE AND DISTINCT DISABILITY IS A VITAL FIRST STEP IN ENSURING THAT PEOPLE GET THE SERVICES AND SUPPORTS THEY NEED
The Anne Sullivan Foundation is running a campaign to improve the lives of Irish deafblind people.
We are asking the Irish government to:
- Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD recognises Deafblindness as a distinct disability. Ireland signed this convention in 2007 but is one of only two EU countries that have not yet ratified it.
⦁ Adopt the EU Written Declaration 1/2004. This declaration was signed by Irish MEP’s in 2004. The declaration recognises Deafblindness as a distinct disability and states that people who are deafblind should have the same rights as all other EU citizens and that these should be enforced by appropriate legislation in each member state and should include the right to receive one-to-one support from communicators and intervenors where appropriate
⦁ Develop guidelines for the care and support of Deafblind children and adults, similar to those published in the UK: In the UK and other countries, local authorities are required to identify, make contact with and keep a record of all the people who are Deafblind in their catchment area; ensure assessment of needs for care by a person or team that has specific training and expertise relating to Deafblind persons; ensure services are appropriate and that there is a Director-level member of the local authority senior team who has overall responsibility for Deafblind services.
OFFICIAL RECOGNITION OF DEAFBLINDNESS IN IRELAND IS THE FIRST STEP TO ENSURING:
⦁ Improved understanding of the condition
⦁ A national programme for diagnosing children and adults who are deafblind
⦁ Early intervention services and specific services for children
⦁ Support for Deafblind people to communicate their health needs and receive medical attention faster and more effectively
⦁ Awareness and training for health professionals in the area of Deafblindness
⦁ The needs of people with Deafblindness being included in future service design and development
⦁ That health and social care sectors are required to record data on gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and co-existing conditions of people with Deafblindness. A proactive approach by the Irish government is vital as Deafblindness is a growing concern: In 2011, research showed that there were 10.365 people with both hearing and vision impairments and the proportion of the population who experience a combination of vision and hearing loss is expected to rise dramatically as a result of the ageing demographic and increased survival rate for infants with multi-sensory impairments.
YOU CAN HELP BY:
⦁ Emailing or speaking with your local government representatives and politicians about these issues
⦁ Sharing your experiences with local councillors about your experience of friends/ family members/ neighbours who may be Deafblind and in need of supports
⦁ Asking your local representatives what they plan to do to improve the lives of people with Deafblindness when they call to your door and ask for your vote
⦁ Visiting the clinics of local councillor’s andTD’s and raising these issues.
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