National crisis over misunderstood condition
26 August 2017
Able Australia is warning of a serious crisis over this often misunderstood condition.
More than 300,000 Australians currently live with some sort of dual sensory loss – a figure that is expected to reach one million by 2050.
Able Australia CEO, Kaye Collard says there needs to be much greater awareness of what deafblind people can experience and that people should know more about the isolation and frustration deafblind people face every day.
“We are calling on governments to do much more. Significant numbers of people are being left isolated and depressed. It is as if the issue is too complex to deal with by some sectors of the community”.
“Deafblind people are being under-supported. We believe the issue is being virtually swept under the carpet. More needs to be done because a crisis is looming. As the population ages, the situation is set to get worse.”
She says it is a myth to think the general public cannot communicate with the deafblind community and says many deafblind people can communicate highly effectively with others through mobile devices connected to a portable braille device.
“There is no question that deafblind people face massive challenges. They are constantly marginalised. Many survive on very tight budgets that cannot be stretched. Most are on a pension. There is a drastic lack of specialised services to support deafblind people and that is precisely why we want more action,” said Kaye.
“We know that about 80% of people with deafblindness report severe anxiety and depression. This issue is on a big scale. Large numbers of people are being left isolated and depressed. More government funding is absolutely critical.”
“The reality is that in all areas of Australia, there is limited assistance for people. Interpreters are so critical to the deafblind community and more funds are needed for this support.”
This year, Able Australia is celebrating its 50th birthday. Formed in 1967 by a passionate and determined group of parents who believed in the potential of their children with deafblindness, Able Australia has since grown into a truly national organisation that supports more than 4000 people with multiple disabilities (including deafblindness) and those in need of community support.