The Center for Deaf-Blind Persons is Israel’s first and only center serving the estimated 1200 Israelis who have the dual disability of deaf-blindness. Deaf-blind people require extensive services tailored to their special needs, as they are able to benefit only partially from services offered by organizations just for the deaf or blind.
With the goal of enabling deaf-blind people to live their lives to the fullest, the Center provides:
- Comprehensive social, educational and rehabilitation services
- Specially-designed leisure and social programming
- Advocacy for the rights of deaf-blind Israelis
- Liaison assistance for deaf-blind people with social services and government agencies
The majority of the Israeli deaf-blind population has Usher Syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by hearing loss from birth and progressive loss of vision through life. The Center for Deaf-Blind Persons helps these individuals use the “window of opportunity” while they still retain some vision to learn skills for coping with their impending blindness.
Located in the Helen Keller House in the Yad Eliyahu neighborhood of Tel Aviv, the Center serves deaf-blind individuals from across Israel.
The Center for Deaf-Blind Persons was established in 1989 by the Beth David Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing solutions in education and rehabilitation for disabled populations.
What is Deaf-Blindness?
Deaf-blindness is defined as any combination of profound or partial deafness and complete or partial loss of vision. The leading cause of deaf-blindness in Israel is Usher Syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by hearing loss from birth and the progressive loss of throughout life. The Center for Deaf-Blind persons helps these individuals use the “window of opportunity” while they still retain some vision to learn skills for coping with their impending blindness.
Usher Syndrome – The Leading Cause of Deaf-Blindness in Israel
Usher Syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by deafness from birth and progressive vision loss. The loss of vision is caused by retinitis pigmentosa, a disease in which the light-sensitive tissue of the retina gradually deteriorates. Night vision loss begins first, followed by blind spots that develop in peripheral vision. Over time, these blind spots enlarge and merge to produce tunnel vision. In some cases of Usher Syndrome, vision is further impaired by cataracts.
Individuals with Usher Syndrome are likely to retain sufficient vision for reading and mobility until their forties or fifties. There is thus a window of opportunity, between the ages of 18-40, when they can prepare for the deterioration of their vision.