The Blind and Deaf

Blindness and deafness is a problem that plagues millions of people everywhere.  Both of these disabilities can be lived and coped with.  For some degree of these dysfunctions there is a way to reverse the blindness or deafness, but in most cases the effects are permanent  Blindness is the total or partial inability to see. Deafness is the inability to hear and understand speech.  Both of these defects are tragic, but can be dealt with and the effected individuals can live a basically normal life.

Blindness can be described in two different ways.  People who are totally blind cannot tell light from dark and people who are partially blind  may have some sight that can be useful to them for different purposes.  Some people are born congenitally blind and others have acquired blindness.  Acquired blindness can come from disease or injury.  There are other conditions of blindness.  Some people have what is called night blindness. They cannot see well when there is limited light.  Another blindness is color blindness.  In this individuals cannot distinguish one color from another.

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Congenital blindness means that someone is born blind.  Everyone else who is blind gets it from disease or injury.  Disease causes about 95% of all blindness.  There are a high number of diseases that can cause blindness.  Some of these are as follows: Cataracts, Diabetic, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Amblyopia, Corneal opacity, and Trachomia just to name a few of the many that exist.  many kinds of injuries can cause blindness.  Infection from germs, chemicals that can burn eyes, damage to the head, and a wound in the optic nerves.  In many jobs, workers are required to wear protective eyeglasses to prevent vision loss.

Overcoming blindness is not an impossible task.  There are schools that teach special techniques to people who are blind on how to read, live and get around alone, and even help blind persons find jobs.  To help overcome blindness there are many aids to help the blind.  Braille and books on tape help blind people read. Blind people  use a special cane when walking alone.  These cane are painted white to show that the person is blind.  They are also longer than a normal cane so that the blind person can find his or her way around. Another aid to get around is a specially trained dog.  These dogs can lead a blind person around without difficulty.  Engineers are developing new devices to help the blind.  One of these is a sonar device that is in a pair of glasses.  These glasses send out sonar that reflects back sound.  There are also many other types of glasses made to help the partially blind.

The first school for the blind opened in 1784.  Today more that 60% of blind children go to regular day school. Some go to special classes and others go to seeing classes.  Many blind students go to college. There are many institutes that will educate blind people and even help them find jobs in the work force. There are agencies that teach blind people how to use a cane and even help them become familiar with their neighborhoods.  Blindness doesn’t not have to be a handicap for people and doesn’t really become one to most blind people.  The government also supports the blind with many programs for them.  Today a blind person can be completely sufficient from anyone else.  With the proper education and training a person who is blind can overcome their defect and lead a completely normal life.

Deafness can be divided into two categories, complete deafness and hearing impaired.  Those who are hearing in pared can hear some speech especially if it is loud enough, however, they generally cannot hear high pitched sounds such as doorbells and music notes.  It is very difficult to teach children who are hearing in pared speech.  Children learn to speak by imitating others and deaf children and hearing in pared children cannot hear enough to echo.  Many people who are deaf never learn to speak well enough to be understood.  Sign language is the main form of communication with someone who is deaf.  Some people who are deaf learn to read lips and even sometimes learn to speak themselves.  Many  deaf people go to college and support themselves.  Their deafness doesn’t need to hinder their lives.

There are four major causes of deafness.  The first cause is diseases.  An infection in the middle of the ear is the leading cause.  This takes place in early childhood and can cause deafness if not treated quickly.  There is also a disease where a bony growth develops at the base of the bone next to the inner ear.  It prevents vibrations from passing through the inner ear and may be hereditary.  Any other disease that causes a high fever can do damage to hearing.

The second cause is birth defects.    Some people are born deaf due to the inner ear not developing fully, while others inherit diseases that can cause deafness later in life.  If a mother has a illness during pregnancy, especially during the 1st 3 months, it can cause deafness.

The third cause is a person’s environmental factors.  Accidents and exposure to loud noise are examples of this.  A hard blow to the head can also cause instant deafness.  In most causes, however, hearing returns to the person.  Also, exposure to loud noise over time can result in permanent hearing damage.  An individual should wear ear plugs to muffle these noises.

The last cause is aging.  The aging process can take a toll on the human body.  Over 2/3s of people over the age of 65 have hearing loss.  Some doctors believe that the brain reduces the ability to hear over time.  In many cases doctors can restore conductive hearing loss.  They give their patients pennicilin and other antibiotics to treat it over time.  Some may require surgery on the inner ear.  Most congenital deafness cannot be treated due to permanent damage to the ear.  A new surgery may help some ,however.  It is an implant that sends electric vibrations to the ear drum.

There are many special communication techniques for the deaf and hearing impaired. The hearing impaired can use hearing aids.  These convert sound to electricity and amplify it so the the person can hear.  For those who are deaf the have to communicate manually. They have to learn sign language, which is an alphabet using the hands where ideas and words are signaled through motions. Two alternatives are lip reading where a person reads the lips of another and can tell what they are saying, and hand writing where letters are drawn into the hand of the impaired.

There is a huge field for education and training for those who are deaf. Children relieve special education all the way up to high school. The children learn the methods mentioned above, and some even learn to speak. The deaf can move on to universities and can join the work force. Deaf people can lead fulfilling lives. Blindness and deafness can be caused by any number of things, but the most important thing to learn is that these defects do not have to hold the individual who has them back. It is a high probability that anyone can learn to function on a normal, daily basis and does not have to be held down.  Life continues normally for those who are affected.

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