DeafBlind Awareness Week 2017 – When can using slings help? #DBAW17

Deafblind Awareness Week 2017

Sight and hearing loss is more common than you think; let’s talk about it!

26th June – 2nd July 2017 



As it is DeafBlind Awareness week we would like to bring your attention to this event and highlight how slings and carriers can enhance the lives deafblind children and adults.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt in the heart.” Helen Keller.  

Wearing your baby close to your heart transfers the love between you seamlessly.

Sensory impairment can make the world a daunting place, it is imperative to make those with such disabilities feel secure to enable them to engage with and enjoy life.  Slings and carriers are useful tools to aid the development of secure attachments and are recommended by health care professionals.

“Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” Helen Keller.

Carrying your child brings them closer to you and the world.

Slings bring the child up into the adult world as they are at eye level; they are therefore more easily able to interact with others due to proximity. In addition slings and carriers allow freedom of movement to enable you to go out and actively engage with the world, hands free and not limited by wheels.

“Deafblindness is a combination of sight and hearing loss that affects a person’s ability to communicate, to access all kinds of information, and to get around.

Deafblindness is not just a deaf person who cannot see, or a blind person who cannot hear. The two impairments together increase the effects of each.

People of all ages can have a sight or hearing impairment. It may have been from birth, or due to deterioration later in life. But most deafblind people have some vision and hearing.

There are approximately 358,000 people in the UK who are deafblind, with the figure estimated to rise to half a million by 2030.”


So how can slings and carriers help deafblind children?

  • Security from continuous physical contact with carer.

They can feel their carer with their whole body, their warmth, their breath, their heart beat, even when back carrying these kinaesthetic inputs are all received.  They can also feel the carrier holding them snug and safe.

  • Engages communication.

As the child is close to you it breaks down barriers to any limited hearing and/or sight they may have. The child can feel the vibrations and breath from speech to experience communication in this alternative form.  The carer is handsfree therefore they actively engage through touch.

  • Different carries can be signals for different events.

In order for deafblind children to understand where they are going and what is happening around them objects can be used to signify transition, such as ‘we are going to the park’, ‘we are going home’, ‘we are going to nursery’. Sling, by their tactile nature, lend themselves to this role. Whether it be the position of the baby (i.e. front, back, hip carry), or separate slings which feel different, these distinctions can covey a variety of meanings.  In particular woven wraps could be a very useful tool due to the versatility of wrapping methods, the child would learn how different passes feel and each carries specific order and therefore could derive quite detailed meaning and understanding.

  • Help break down barriers

Slings easily overcomes physical barriers, such as stairs or rough terrain; therefore you are reducing limitations and widening the horizons of both child and carer.  Carrying your child also aid relations with the community, as the child is at eye level with others, there are more opportunities for people to interact with them and benefits from that communication.

And what about benefits for deafblind adults?

  • Engages communication

When in a sling or carrier the child is close and this proximity maximises the limited hearing and/or sight they may have.  Furthermore, as they are handsfree they are able to easily communicate through touch, in addition to other kinaesthetic communication, such as experiencing speech through vibrations and movements.

  • Provides security and confidence

Sensory impairment can have a detrimental impact on confidence, the individual may have lost faith in their ability to safely hold a baby.  A carrier can provide that external reassurance that baby is secure, thus allowing them to engage and interact with their little one, seated or standing.

  • Enhance well being

Holding baby close can provide a soothing effect, heartbeats can synchronise and regulate each other, also the sensory input from touch and smell can release hormones to enhance mood.

  • Family and social engagement

Slings and carriers can be effective tools to assist the carers of deafblind individuals with children to perform their dual role.  Slings may mean they can perform their caring duties whilst meeting their baby’s needs in the carrier or sling.

When out as a family the child is at eye level creating the opportunity for ease of interaction, thus helping to maintain family connections.

If you would like more information, please check out the hashtag #DBAW17 on Facebook or Twitter and follow the links below

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