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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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DeafBlind/Disability Community History

The resources in this section provide information about how people with deafblindness or other disabilities lived, worked, and were viewed by society in the past, and how that past has shaped the present day.

See also DeafBlind People in History, and Frequently Asked Questions about DeafBlindness.

If you would like to update or add to the information on this page, please use our Feedback Form.

DeafBlind History

  • History and Change in the Education of Children Who Are Deaf-Blind Since the Rubella Epidemic of the 1960s: Influence of Methods Developed in the Netherlands
    Description: "Through the collaboration and sharing of knowledge of many countries, successful methodologies to teach individuals who are deaf-blind have increased rapidly since the time of the Rubella outbreak."
  • Orientation to Deaf-Blind
    Description: An informative overview of deafblindness, including a section on deafblind history (located just after the section on causes of deafblindness).
  • Sensory Impairment Timeline
    Description: Timeline from the year 1268 to the present. Published by Deafblind Scotland.
  • Touch, Touch and Touch Again
    Description: A book about "the available history of Deafblind persons in the UK and offers scope for further research. Deafblind persons from the 17th to the 19th centuries are grouped together in a single publication"
    Note: See also the Sense article about this book.
  • Touching Lives: Portraits of Deaf-Blind People
    Description: Article about a 2002 documentary film about modern-day deafblind lives. The film premiered at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Here is the MFA's description of the film: "Taking viewers into the worlds of individuals who cannot see or hear, narrator Susan Hajjar, a woman with three deaf-blind siblings, introduces us to five deaf-blind individuals and their families, communities, jobs, worship, hopes, dreams, and frustrations. The film reveals the full lives of these people who are not able to hear or see, as well as the almost insurmountable obstacles they face."

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Deaf History

  • Deaf Culture and History from PBS
    Description: Introduction to Deaf culture, from the American public television network, PBS. Includes a detailed, international timeline.
  • Book: Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America
    Publisher: National Association of the Deaf; ASIN: 0913072397; (June 1981)
    Description: "This popular classic provides a far-reaching overview of the deaf community in America, spanning the years 1880-1980."
  • Deaf History International (DHI)
    Description: "welcomes anyone with an interest in encouraging the study, preservation and dissemination of Deaf People’s history. It was during the first Deaf Way event in 1989, that a group of interested individual got together to propose the establishment of an international organization."
  • History Through Deaf Eyes
    Description: "Developed by Gallaudet University, History Through Deaf Eyes is a traveling social history exhibition aligning nearly 200 years of United States history with the experiences of deaf people. Using objects and images collected by individuals, organizations, and schools for deaf children, this exhibition illustrates the shared experiences of family life, education, and work - as well as the divergent ways deaf people see themselves, communicate, employ and adapt technology, and determine their own futures."

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Blind History

  • History of Reading Codes for the Blind
    Description: History and examples of several tactile reading systems, as developed by Hauy, Braille, Gall, Alston, Lucas, Moon, as well as New York Point, British Braille, and how Braille became the worldwide standard.
    Note: Helen Keller advocated for the adoption of Braille, although she was proficient in all of these tactile systems.
  • History Pages from Schools and Other Institutions for the Blind
    Description: "an increasing number of history pages on the Web produced by some venerable institutions in the blindness field."
  • How Braille Began
    Description: An excellent (although long) article about the development of various writing systems for blind readers, and how Braille became a standard method used around the world.
  • The Marie and Eugene Callahan Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind
    Description: "features a rare collection of artifacts relating to the educational history of blind people and the history of APH. The Callahan Museum is housed in the historic, 1883 section of the APH building." Many of the museum's features are available online. There is also a traveling exhibit called In Touch With Knowledge: The Educational History of Blind People.

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All-Disability History / Disability Rights Movement

  • Disability History Timeline
    Description: Important dates and events from 3500 BC to the present. From the Disability Social History Project.
  • The History of Disability: A History of "Otherness"
    Description: Describes the ways society has viewed people with disabilities throughout history.
  • International Independent Living Timeline
    Description: "Independent living has been defined as a social movement, which promotes the philosophy of self-organization, self-help, civil rights, and improved quality of daily life for people with disabilities. In contrast to the medical/rehabilitation model, the independent living paradigm focuses on environmental and social change rather than adjustment of the disabled individual." Important dates and events from 1775 to the present.
  • The New Paradigm of Disability: A Bibliography
    Description: "an annotated bibliography of books organized by categories: Community/Culture, Disability Studies, Family, Children, & Relationships, History, Identity, Policy/Civil Rights, Children/Young Adults, and separate categories for Radio, Movies, WWW (Internet), Publications and Videos… Included is disability experience, identity, pride, passion, intellect, and community as we define it. The focus is on disability in the United States, but it also includes international perspectives."
  • See also Supports: Tools for Independence.

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Continue to DeafBlind People in History.

Back to History: Overview.

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