Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC), a division of Helen Keller Services (HKS) that provides vocational and independent living training to individuals who are deaf-blind, will mark Deaf-Blind Awareness Week (June 25 – July 1) with a national advocacy campaign, HKNC Executive Director Susan Ruzenski announced.

“In the 50 years since HKNC was founded, communication technology has evolved dramatically and rapidly, but the culture of touch remains a pivotal value and way of life among people in the deaf-blind community,” said Ruzenski.  “In a world focused on the digital, this year’s campaign theme, ‘The Power of Touch,’ reminds us all of the importance of the tactile and the tangible.”

HKS President and CEO Joseph F. Bruno said, “HKNC’s 50th Anniversary is the perfect time to shine a light on the self-empowered deaf-blind community and its engagement with others through touch. Adding touch signals to traditional Tactile American Sign Language (TASL) greatly expands how a deaf-blind individual experiences the world.”

While TASL reportedly continues to serve as the predominant sign language of deaf-blind individuals in the United States, recent years have seen an overwhelming embrace of touch signals—visual, social, and environmental feedback given in real time through touch on the body.

Greyhealth Group (GHG) has reportedly created the Deaf-Blind Awareness Week posters, pro bono, for almost 30 years.  According to HKNC, the underlying message of this year’s poster is that, despite all the new devices and adaptive equipment available, members of the deaf-blind community are still aware that there is a time and place for technology and a time and place to connect through The Power of Touch.

To help advance the rights of deaf-blind individuals, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation in 1984 designating the last week of June as Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week.  For more information on Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, including an educational tool kit that includes downloadable versions of this year’s posters, please visit here.

Source: HKNC