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Dual Sensory Impairment (DSI), sometimes called age acquired deafblindness or combined sight and hearing loss, occurs mostly as part of getting older – 78% of people with DSI are over the age of 60. The biggest impact, without appropriate support, is isolation and depression.
It is different to being congenitally deafblind or becoming dual sensory impaired before adulthood. Acquiring DSI as part of ageing means not having grown up with, not having been trained in, alternative skills and strategies to navigate and take part in the world around you.
Often there is some residual sight and or hearing that can be used although not to the extent you used to be able to do when you were younger – reading, getting out and about unsupported, listening to the radio. Such activities, now even more important to your health and wellbeing, will largely be difficult or impossible or frightening – unless you get informed support and advice and training to manage your DSI, to learn new ways to navigate the world around you.
To put things into context, consider a child born deaf or becoming deafened at an early age. Nowadays they could be offered a cochlear implant or other surgical intervention, learn sign language or be fitted with hearing aids at a time in their development when they will be able to adapt to get the best possible use from this type of support. They might also have benefited from skilled teaching support at school.
HiVis, the Charity for people with Hearing Impairment and Visual Impairment, has produced a series of guides for people working with those who have this dual impairment – and a useful toolkit to help identify if someone has this dual loss. Many people aged over 70 will have this, but may not be aware of it.
For further information and support go: Hi Vis support for DSI