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Sense

Maureen Lipman makes an impassioned appeal to raise funds for Sense, a charity for deafblind people. The film features 25-year-old Roger, who has been deafblind since birth.


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Transcript


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Imagine walking down the street.

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Then imagine that what you see is blurred and distorted.

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And that sounds are distant and confused.

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CAR HORN SOUNDS

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There are over 350,000 people in the UK living with a combination

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of deafness and blindness.

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Not only is this a huge challenge for them to communicate

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but they also have to face a lack of independence

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and a sense of isolation which is overwhelming.

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Roger is 25 years old and lives with his parents.

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Like many other people who are born deafblind,

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Roger has congenital Rubella syndrome.

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He has brain damage, limited vision and is profoundly deaf.

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Deafblindness must be the most isolating condition that you

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can be born with.

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The hardest thing for Roger's mother was not being able to

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communicate with her son when he was a young boy.

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I couldn't sit there and just say, "Mummy loves you."

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I had to find some other way of letting him know that there

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was somebody out there that actually cared about him.

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At home Roger's parents are his eyes and ears.

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Beautiful!

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As someone who relies on observation to do what I do,

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it's miraculous to me that a life deprived of sight

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and sound can be given joy and hope and prospects and meaning.

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And that's why I'm involved with Sense.

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It's a charity which supports and campaigns for deafblind people.

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This is Adam, he's seven years old and lives with his parents

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and older brother Ethan.

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Adam, throw it to mummy!

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Adam was born with a rare condition which left him with damaged sight,

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hearing and difficulties with learning.

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It's not being deaf, it's not being blind.

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Those two together mean it's a whole different meaning as to how

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he relates to the world and how he understands the world.

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Having a combined sight

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and hearing loss makes the ability to balance very difficult.

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If someone spun around for a long time and then asked to get up

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and walk straight, most people find that quite difficult to do.

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And that's what Adam deals with every day. That is his life.

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-OK, Adam, let's put your cardigan on...

-Go out!

-..and go out, that's right.

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'Adam needs a lot of support every day.

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'In terms of it being what a seven-year-old would normally

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'be doing, it's very different.'

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He's very vulnerable when he's out, so he actually, whilst he's holding

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my hand, he's very actively using my hand to maintain his balance.

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Let's go to the swings, that'd be great, won't it?

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The charity understands the particular types of help

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deafblind people and their families need.

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Sense has 17 specialist day centres around the UK,

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where individuals are taught new forms of communication.

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And expert staff spend time with them on a range of activities and skills.

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It's beautiful.

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It's so easy to look at a deafblind person

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and only see what they can't do.

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This charity focuses entirely on what that person can do,

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so with the help of one-to-one specialist support, Sense can

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open doors into what sometimes seems like a closed society.

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I've come to one of the charity's day centres

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to meet 46-year-old Richard and his support worker Clark.

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Who opened the cage, again? I can't remember.

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-You!

-Me?!

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It was you!

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-Hello, Clark. Hello, Richard.

-Hi, Maureen.

-Hi, there.

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Richard has a degenerative condition which means he has a learning disability.

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-Maureen's here, do you want to say hello?

-Hello, Richard.

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'From the age of seven he started to lose both his hearing

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'and gradually his sight.'

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Clark, can you explain to me what you're doing?

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Obviously Richard's vision isn't brilliant

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and he can't really see what I'm signing back to him,

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so he can feel what I'm signing so he grips my hands.

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He can feel the motions of what I'm doing.

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I am...

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'With Clark's help I've learned how to spell out my name

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'on Richard's hand.'

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U...R...

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'Learning hands on sign language is vital for Richard's future

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'when he may lose his sight and hearing altogether.'

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-M.

-Maureen.

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Maureen.

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For all deafblind people the ability to communicate means

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the difference between feeling alienated and feeling included.

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For people like Roger who've spent all their life with minimum

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sight and hearing, words and letters can have little meaning.

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So the charity has introduced him to a new form of written communication.

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With the help of one of his support workers Chip,

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Roger has learnt a specialised vocabulary which uses pictures

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and symbols alongside words.

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He now works part-time at a cafe set up by the charity called Cafe 55.

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Can I have the ham salad?

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The menus use the same picture system so with the help of

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another of his support workers, he is able to take customers' orders.

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Roger is absolutely thrilled when Monday morning comes round.

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Thank you.

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Working in Cafe 55 has made a huge difference to him, his confidence

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has gone up through the ceiling, he sees himself more as an equal,

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rather than always being in somebody's shadow.

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Because deafblind people often feel excluded,

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school can be particularly daunting.

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So the charity has a specialist team which works with the school

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to help children, parents and teachers through this crucial time.

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Come on then, Adam, in you go, sweetheart.

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Adam has been attending a special school since he was three.

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Does it say in or up?

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Up.

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Thankfully for Adam and his parents

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the charity has been there from the start.

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Every six weeks, Gail,

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the charity's specialist consultant, visits Adam's school

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to observe his progress and give advice to teachers.

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It's wonderful to see the progress that he's making

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with the right support and to know that in time to come,

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hopefully Adam will be able to lead a full and enriched life.

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-Adam?

-Yes.

-Would you like me to read this? Yeah? OK.

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For Adam, Sense has been really crucial in him making

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the most of his school. I know he's going to achieve his potential.

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-Day or Dog?

-Dog.

-Good boy!

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The ongoing support he receives from Sense means he now

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interacts more confidently with those around him.

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Adam, let's have a race!

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This is a charity that's working with and for people

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who otherwise would be seen as non-people.

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Thank you.

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Without them, he would feel so alone.

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You know, sometimes deafblind people feel

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as if the whole world doesn't hear them or see them.

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With your support Sense can help these people to lead fulfilled

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and independent lives.

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So please donate, by going to the website which is bbc.co.uk/lifeline

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and if you don't have access to the internet just call 0800 011 011.

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And if the lines are busy, PLEASE keep trying!

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Or if you'd like to post a donation, please make your

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check payable to Sense and send it to:

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Remember if you're a UK tax payer the charity can collect

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Gift Aid on your donation worth another 25%.

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Just send in a note to say you want your donation to be subject to

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Gift Aid and include the date, your full name and address.

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Thank you.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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Actress Maureen Lipman makes an impassioned appeal to raise funds for Sense, a charity for deafblind people. She explains how, as someone who relies on observation for what she does, it seems miraculous that a life deprived of sight and sound can be given meaning, joy, and hope. That is why she has been a long-term supporter of the charity. The film features 25-year-old Roger, who has been deafblind since birth, and Maureen Lipman visits a Sense Centre to meet Richard, whose sight and hearing are deteriorating, and who is being taught hand-on-hand signing to prevent him losing his ability to communicate.