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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Imagine walking down the street.
Then imagine that what you see is blurred and distorted.
And that sounds are distant and confused.
CAR HORN SOUNDS
There are over 350,000 people in the UK living with a combination
of deafness and blindness.
Not only is this a huge challenge for them to communicate
but they also have to face a lack of independence
and a sense of isolation which is overwhelming.
Roger is 25 years old and lives with his parents.
Like many other people who are born deafblind,
Roger has congenital Rubella syndrome.
He has brain damage, limited vision and is profoundly deaf.
Deafblindness must be the most isolating condition that you
can be born with.
The hardest thing for Roger's mother was not being able to
communicate with her son when he was a young boy.
I couldn't sit there and just say, "Mummy loves you."
I had to find some other way of letting him know that there
was somebody out there that actually cared about him.
At home Roger's parents are his eyes and ears.
As someone who relies on observation to do what I do,
it's miraculous to me that a life deprived of sight
and sound can be given joy and hope and prospects and meaning.
And that's why I'm involved with Sense.
It's a charity which supports and campaigns for deafblind people.
This is Adam, he's seven years old and lives with his parents
and older brother Ethan.
Adam, throw it to mummy!
Adam was born with a rare condition which left him with damaged sight,
hearing and difficulties with learning.
It's not being deaf, it's not being blind.
Those two together mean it's a whole different meaning as to how
he relates to the world and how he understands the world.
Having a combined sight
and hearing loss makes the ability to balance very difficult.
If someone spun around for a long time and then asked to get up
and walk straight, most people find that quite difficult to do.
And that's what Adam deals with every day. That is his life.
-OK, Adam, let's put your cardigan on...
-..and go out, that's right.
'Adam needs a lot of support every day.
'In terms of it being what a seven-year-old would normally
'be doing, it's very different.'
He's very vulnerable when he's out, so he actually, whilst he's holding
my hand, he's very actively using my hand to maintain his balance.
Let's go to the swings, that'd be great, won't it?
The charity understands the particular types of help
deafblind people and their families need.
Sense has 17 specialist day centres around the UK,
where individuals are taught new forms of communication.
And expert staff spend time with them on a range of activities and skills.
It's so easy to look at a deafblind person
and only see what they can't do.
This charity focuses entirely on what that person can do,
so with the help of one-to-one specialist support, Sense can
open doors into what sometimes seems like a closed society.
I've come to one of the charity's day centres
to meet 46-year-old Richard and his support worker Clark.
Who opened the cage, again? I can't remember.
It was you!
-Hello, Clark. Hello, Richard.
Richard has a degenerative condition which means he has a learning disability.
-Maureen's here, do you want to say hello?
'From the age of seven he started to lose both his hearing
'and gradually his sight.'
Clark, can you explain to me what you're doing?
Obviously Richard's vision isn't brilliant
and he can't really see what I'm signing back to him,
so he can feel what I'm signing so he grips my hands.
He can feel the motions of what I'm doing.
'With Clark's help I've learned how to spell out my name
'on Richard's hand.'
'Learning hands on sign language is vital for Richard's future
'when he may lose his sight and hearing altogether.'
For all deafblind people the ability to communicate means
the difference between feeling alienated and feeling included.
For people like Roger who've spent all their life with minimum
sight and hearing, words and letters can have little meaning.
So the charity has introduced him to a new form of written communication.
With the help of one of his support workers Chip,
Roger has learnt a specialised vocabulary which uses pictures
and symbols alongside words.
He now works part-time at a cafe set up by the charity called Cafe 55.
Can I have the ham salad?
The menus use the same picture system so with the help of
another of his support workers, he is able to take customers' orders.
Roger is absolutely thrilled when Monday morning comes round.
Working in Cafe 55 has made a huge difference to him, his confidence
has gone up through the ceiling, he sees himself more as an equal,
rather than always being in somebody's shadow.
Because deafblind people often feel excluded,
school can be particularly daunting.
So the charity has a specialist team which works with the school
to help children, parents and teachers through this crucial time.
Come on then, Adam, in you go, sweetheart.
Adam has been attending a special school since he was three.
Does it say in or up?
Thankfully for Adam and his parents
the charity has been there from the start.
Every six weeks, Gail,
the charity's specialist consultant, visits Adam's school
to observe his progress and give advice to teachers.
It's wonderful to see the progress that he's making
with the right support and to know that in time to come,
hopefully Adam will be able to lead a full and enriched life.
-Would you like me to read this? Yeah? OK.
For Adam, Sense has been really crucial in him making
the most of his school. I know he's going to achieve his potential.
-Day or Dog?
The ongoing support he receives from Sense means he now
interacts more confidently with those around him.
Adam, let's have a race!
This is a charity that's working with and for people
who otherwise would be seen as non-people.
Without them, he would feel so alone.
You know, sometimes deafblind people feel
as if the whole world doesn't hear them or see them.
With your support Sense can help these people to lead fulfilled
and independent lives.
So please donate, by going to the website which is bbc.co.uk/lifeline
and if you don't have access to the internet just call 0800 011 011.
And if the lines are busy, PLEASE keep trying!
Or if you'd like to post a donation, please make your
check payable to Sense and send it to:
Remember if you're a UK tax payer the charity can collect
Gift Aid on your donation worth another 25%.
Just send in a note to say you want your donation to be subject to
Gift Aid and include the date, your full name and address.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
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.