There are almost 400,000 people who are deafblind in the UK, all of whom will have a range of hearing and sight loss from mild to severe, some of whom may use a red and white cane.
Ways of communicating for people who are deafblind will vary depending on the degree of hearing and sight loss. For some people verbal communication will be ok as long as you speak clearly – no need to shout or talk slowly though. Others may use Deafblind manual – a form of fingerspelling adapted from BSL where each letter is spelt out on the hand by touch. Alternatively block alphabet may be used where the letters of the alphabet are traced onto the deafblind person’s palm using your forefinger. Some may prefer to use BSL, or an adapted version of it called visual-frame or hands-on BSL, or SSE (Sign Supported English) depending on the degree of their sight loss. For other Deafblind people using a white board or note pad with large writing may be preferred.
Newer technology is helping with communication too, with tablets and smart phones enabling deafblind people to access much more information though accessible software, such as Synapptic.
Does your organisation run Corporate Volunteering days? If so, Deafblind UK and Sense are able to connect you up with projects, such as helping create sensory gardens, befriending schemes and running social groups, that will make a real difference to a deafblind person.
Organise a touch, or sensory, tour of your venue. With advice from local groups, you could adapt the walk round to be suitable for your deafblind visitors. Incorporate as many sensory elements as possible, such as smell, sound and lighting, and different environments such as inside and outside. The charity Sense have a really useful guide specifically for deafblind children: https://www.sense.org.uk/sites/default/files/Sensory_environments_for_deafblind_children_and_adults_0.pdf
Invite your local Deafblind group to visit and let them know about all the services and facilities you have on offer that might assist them in choosing to come to you in future. Take the opportunity to ask them for their advice and suggestions on what you else you could do to provide even better accessibility too.
Make sure your digital content is accessible and has all the relevant accessibility functions enabled such as increasing the font size of the text, converting it to plain text and adjusting the page contrast.
Set your frontline staff the challenge of learning the Deafblind manual alphabet over the course of the week: https://youtu.be/tXCiAeLnh7E
Both Deafblind UK and Sense have great resources for people who want to fundraise and raise awareness across the week.