Nothing Is Impossible, These 5 People with Deafblindness Proved Just That

By: Cheryl

By: Klaidi Shehi, Marketing Research Assistant

What is Deaf-Blind Awareness Week?

Established in 1984, Deafblind awareness week is an annual celebration to bring awareness to individuals with a dual-sensory impairment of both their hearing and sight. This annual event is held on the last week of June and is named after Helen Keller, an American author and disability rights activist who became Deafblind as a baby. Deafblindness means these impairments affect one’s life but is not exclusively a complete loss of sight and hearing. Deafblindness exists on a spectrum, with everyone having varying degrees of both losses of sight and hearing. There are two types of deafblindness, Congenital when one is born deafblindness, and Acquired deafblindness when one becomes deafblind later in life.

One fact not many are too aware of is that this dual-sensory impairment can be indicated with a red and white striped cane, which means that person has a hearing impairment as well as sight loss as appose to white canes that blind or visually impaired individuals commonly use. Over 1% population, or approximately 466,420 people, are deafblind in Canada, with almost half of that population living in Ontario.

How Deaf-Blind Services Have Evolved 

Deafblind awareness has drastically improved in the past few decades with the efforts of Keller and other advocates to improve accessibility services for people. She was influential in improving treatment for the deaf and blind, helping remove individuals with these disabilities from asylums. As the deafblind population has increased and awareness has grown, better and broader accessibility services that cater to both these disabilities simultaneously have begun to emerge. Since 2001, every Canadian bank note features braille-like tactile dots that come in groups of six. One group of six dots represent five Dollar, two groups 10, three groups 20 and so on. With the rise of digital meetings, conferences and lectures, online meeting platforms have begun adding transcript service options to their calls. The abundance and quality of service animals and walking aids like dogs and canes have also drastically increased.

Several individuals have helped improve conditions and services for deafblind people worldwide and raise awareness of their impairments. We wanted to highlight a few whose achievements and work have inspired and affected not only people within the deafblind community but also other people in the world.

5 People That Have Become Successful Despite Their Audio/Visual Disabilities 

  1. Hellen Keller (1880 – 1920)

Keller became deafblind after falling ill at 19 months. Despite her disability, Keller became a published author writing over 14 books, advocating for disability awareness, women’s suffrage, labour rights and world peace. She was also the subject of an award-winning academy documentary about her life, as well as becoming the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

  1. Sanzan Tani (1802 – 1867)

Tani became deaf in his childhood, later losing his vision in his adult life. Yet, despite his dual-sensory impairment, he became a respected Confucian scholar and teacher in Japan.

  1. Haben Girma 1988)

Girma made history after becoming the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School and is now an accomplished disability rights lawyer. She has also been named by Barack Obama as a White House Champion of Change and received the Hellen Keller Achievement Award in 2018. In addition, she has a service dog named Milo that helps guide her and works with an assistant to communicate with others through a braille keyboard.

  1. Laura Bridgeman (1829 – 1889)

Laura is seen as the first deafblind American child to gain a significant education, becoming famous at the time due to the lack of deafblind education and awareness. Before Laura, many thought it to be impossible to educate people with sensory impairments like deafblindness but she proved many educators and doctors wrong while also paving the way for sensory impairment education.

  1. Yvonne Pitrois (1880 – 1937)

Yvonne was a French writer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was a prolific writer despite her disabilities and became an advocate for the welfare of deaf and deafblind people. She even organized funds to help deaf people who were left without food or shelter during world war I.

MCIS Accessibility services

MCIS has always worked towards closing the gap for those in need of accessibility services and strives to make sure all language and communication barriers are removed through our services We offer American Sign Language Interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation where the transcription of speech to text can be read by an individual live! We also offer LSQ or La Langue des Signes Quebecoise, Deaf Interpreting and Braille translation, which allows those who are visually impaired to read information. To learn more about the accessibility services that MCIS offers or to request a service please click here! MCIS can assist you in all your language solution queries!



CNIB. (2022) “Braille Transcription Services.” 2022.

DeafBlind Ontario Services. (2021). “Research in Deafblindness.” 2’s%20population%20or%20approximately%20466%2C420%20people%20are%20deafblind..

Edwards-Oñoro, Deborah. (2022) “DeafBlind Awareness Week 2022: Get Involved – Lireo Designs.” Lireo Designs – Creating Usable Website Solutions.

McGlinn, Indre. 2020. “Famous Deaf People: 15 Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People Who Changed the World.” Ai-Media Creating Accessibility, One Word at a Time. Ai-Media. July 9, 2020.