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DeafBlind people are rarely totally deaf and
totally blind. Each individual's degree of hearing and vision
loss is unique.
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Several important laws establish government-mandated accessibility to
buildings, businesses, services, and information for people with disabilities.
Three of the major
federal disability rights laws in the United States are the Rehab
Act, IDEA, and ADA.
Act of 1973
- Section 504 requires accessibility to government buildings; Section
508 requires accessibility to federally-sponsored electronic media such
as the Internet.
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- (formerly known as Public Law 94-142 of 1975) requires all children
with disabilities to have access to a "free appropriate public
education" that meets their unique needs and prepares them for
independent living and employment.
with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
- sets specific accessibility standards and provides legal protection
in employment, state and local government, public transportation, public
accommodations, and telecommunications.
See also Laws,
Legal Rights, and Advocates from Minnesota Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Services for local and national information links.
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Specially-trained people and animals provide access to communication,
interaction, and environmental sights and sounds to a person who is DeafBlind.
Here are some options if you are interested in pursuing a career working
with deafblind people.
- mediates between Deaf/DeafBlind and Hearing cultures, and interprets
communication between a natural sign language (such as ASL) and spoken
language (such as English). See also Minnesota
Interpreter Referral Page.
- provides communication access between two forms of one language, such
as between signed English and spoken English, or between cued English
and spoken English.
- "a trained individual who works one-to-one with a child or student
who is deafblind in home, school, and community settings… to facilitate
a process that creates access to visual and auditory information"
and may mentor the consumer on independent living skills.
- Support Service Provider (SSP)
- accompanies the DeafBlind consumer on errands or at community events,
describing the sights and sounds of the environment so the consumer
can make informed decisions and be as self-sufficient as possible. SSPs
can be Deaf or hearing, and may help facilitate communication, but do
- Sighted Guide
- each of the above support personnel commonly also acts as a sighted
guide. (See more information in How
do DeafBlind people get around?.)
- Note Taker
- takes notes during a class or meeting and gives a copy to the DeafBlind
person. This is helpful because it is nearly impossible to write in
print or braille while using one's hands and/or eyes to take in tactile
or visual communication.
- Types include guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure
response dogs, companion dogs, facilities dogs, combination dogs. See
Dog Resources and Service
Animals in Places of Business. You may also wish to consult a worldwide
list of guide dog schools where blind people receive dogs and training.
Further info about service professionals:
- For more insight into how support personnel are used, read a
presentation about interveners and SSPs. It was presented in American
Sign Language by two DeafBlind professionals, interpreted into spoken
English, transcribed into open captions, and later posted on the Internet.
- For more information about interpreters and SSPs see The
National Curriculum: An Introduction to Working and Socializing with
People Who Are Deaf-Blind.
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Many tools are available that allow a person with a disability to independently
perform tasks that would not otherwise be accessible to him or her. These
tools include the Internet and assistive technology equipment —
both high-tech and low-tech.
DeafBlind people can use the Internet to communicate
and interact with people all over the world, shop for goods and services,
learn through distance learning, and more. Before the Internet, a DeafBlind
person more often needed support personnel to help them complete these
Shopping on the Internet
Shopping Beginners Basics - how to shop safely and successfully
- Online grocery shopping resources: Simon
Delivers (based in Minneapolis/St. Paul), BlindFoods.com,
Finding Accessible Information Online
- Great Text Links
is an enormous selection of web sites that are text and speech friendly.
Categoried by topic.
- See our Resources
page for information on Internet resources for DeafBlind people.
Vision Loss - computer adaptations such as braille display, screen
enlarging software, screen-reading software, alternative input devices
for people who can't use a standard keyboard and/or mouse, braille or
talking personal data assistants (PDAs), braille embossers, closed-circuit
Hearing Loss - telecommunications devices for the deaf (also known
as TTYs, TDDs, or text phones) - in regular print, large print, or braille;
vibrating alarm clocks and signalers for the doorbell, oven time, baby
monitor, telephone; hearing
implants, and assistive
listening device. See also Assistive
Technology page from DeafWeb Washington.
Vision Loss - check-writing guide (provides a raised outline of
where to write on the check), braille slate (for writing braille by
hand), magnifying glass, black felt-tip pen (for writing in large print),
white cane and other mobility aids, hat or
sunglasses to reduce glare and other visual
Communication - communication boards or systems with symbols in
which a person who is deaf-blind may use by pointing, eye-gaze, or any
other means he or she is physically capable.
Resources from DB-LINK - selected article summaries and resources.
Assistive Technology - identifies useful assistive technologies
that support learning and socialization for students with hearing or
on Sensory Disabilities - products listed by disability and by product
- CODI: Assistive Technology Information - lots of links
about assistive technology: vendors, uses, product types.
Communications - assistive products designed for deaf, deafblind,
and hard-of-hearing people. A Minnesota-based, Deaf-owned business.
- Infinitec - helps people with
disabilities and their families lean about and access life-enhancing
technology. Products listed by disability type and product use.
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Through consumer advocacy groups, people with disabilities and their
allies unite to work toward better accessibility and quality of life.
In fact, many consumer advocacy groups have worked over the last several
decades -- educating the public about disability and capability, lobbying
the legislature, fighting discrimination, and changing attitudes. This
work has made possible common present-day supports such as disability
rights laws, support professionals, and assistive technologies.
Below is a list of some of the consumer advocacy groups run by and for
people with sensory loss and other disabilities in Minnesota. For people
who do not live in Minnesota, national affiliates (if available) are included
in each organization's description.
DeafBlind Association (MDBA)
1821 University Avenue West, Suite S-117
St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 647-6564 Voice/TTY
Description: "As the only organization
serving DeafBlind adults in Minnesota that is governed by DeafBlind
consumers, MDBA is a focal point of the Minnesota DeafBlind community.
MDBA’s DeafBlind leadership meetings, community workshops and
special events allow DeafBlind people to thrive and flourish in a kinship
of support and solidarity. Active since 1979, MDBA is committed to providing
information, education, advocacy, and other services to persons who
are DeafBlind, family members, and professionals." Affiliated with
Association of the Deaf-Blind.
Association of Deaf Citizens (MADC)
Charles Thompson Memorial Hall
1824 Marshall Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 644-3455 (TTY)
Email President Emory Dively: firstname.lastname@example.org
Description: A consumer advocacy and social/recreational
organization, affiliated with National
Association of the Deaf (NAD).
Description: "Your Free Guide to
the Twin Cities Deaf Community - Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN"
Includes News, Events, Job Postings, Community Ads, and resource
directories for Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind people.
Deaf Advocates (BDA), Minnesota Chapter#25
Email Kim Wassenaar: email@example.com
(763) 757-0452 FAX
Description: "The National
BDA is the first and largest consumer organization for Deaf and
Hard of Hearing people of color established in the United States…
we have an active and motivated membership who meets monthly in the
public library across from Thompson Hall [Merriam
Park branch library at the corner of Fairview and Marshall in St.
Paul]. Please join us! You don't need to be Black or Deaf to join us.
You just need to be an advocate."
- Metro Deaf Senior Citizens, Inc.
1298 No. Pascal
St. Paul, MN 55108
(612) 647-0328 TTY
(612) 647-9565 Voice
Commission Serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing People (MCDHH)
444 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-3814
(651) 297-7305 Voice/TTY
Email Mary Hartnett: firstname.lastname@example.org
Services for adults and families with deafblind children:
advocacy, legislative training for consumers. Statewide services.
Department of Human Rights
Army Corps of Engineers Centre
190 East 5th Street, Suite 700
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101
Toll free: 1-800-657-3704
(651) 296-5663 Voice
(651) 296-1283 TTY
Description: "a neutral state agency
that investigates charges of illegal discrimination." Web site
includes Information about your rights in employment, housing, and other
settings, a very extensive listing of related resources, and an online
version of a CD-ROM
on disability rights issues.
Disability Law Center - Client Assistance Project
300 Kickernick Building
430 First Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1780
(612) 332-1441 Voice
(612) 332-4668 TTY
Toll Free: (800) 292-4150 (new client intake number)
Description: free civil legal assistance to
individuals with disabilities. Client Assistance Project advocates and
mediates for people who have grievances about services from state agencies.
Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (MNRAD)
Description: "an organization created
for and by Deaf, [DeafBlind, late deafened,] and Hard-of-Hearing Gays,
Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgender people (and related groups), and our
Note: This web site is the MNRAD email list
on Yahoogroups. See also the National
Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf.
Federation of the Blind of Minnesota
100 East 22nd Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
(612) 872-9363 Voice
Email Joyce Scanlan: email@example.com
Description: "the state's largest and
oldest organization of the blind. It provides self-help programs for
blind people of all ages and activities."
Note: See also National
Federation of the Blind - Deaf-Blind Division.
- PACER Center
8161 Normandale Boulevard
Minneapolis, MN 55437-1044
(952) 838-9000 Voice
(952) 838-0190 TTY
Toll-free in Minnesota: 1-800-537-2237
(952) 838-0199 Fax
Description: "The mission of PACER Center
is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children
and young adults with disabilities and their families, based on the
concept of parents helping parents. With assistance to individual families,
workshops, and materials for parents and professionals, and leadership
in securing a free and appropriate public education for all children,
PACER's work affects and encourages families in Minnesota and across
the nation." A national organization based in Minnesota.
Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH) - Minnesota Chapter 1
Description: "goal is to enhance the
quality of life for people who are hard of hearing… by providing
information, education, support and advocacy" Affiliated with the
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