Celebrating Deafblind Awareness Week in parliament

Every year, organisations across the world mark Deafblind Awareness Week. Deafblind Awareness Week is always on what would have been Helen Keller’s birthday, 27 June. It’s all about learning about what life is like for those who are deafblind, and celebrating the achievements of people who are deafblind.

This year we decided to do something a little different, and for the first time ever we hosted an exhibition in parliament.  We wanted MPs and peers to find out more about deafblindness, more about Sense and know how they can support the 450,000 deafblind people living in the UK today

We designed an exhibition that included some key information about deafblindness and the work of Sense.  Most importantly, the exhibition featured stories from deafblind people about their lives and experiences. 

Exhibition stand in parliament.  A large purple and orange board with information on surrounded by pictures of deafblind people and their stories.

We wanted to make the exhibition as accessible as possible so recorded audio descriptions of all the photos and text on ‘talking tiles’. Visitors could push the buttons to hear the information.

Visitor to exhibition has arm outstretched to push  a button

The exhibition guides we created were also available in large print and braille.

A hand reading braille by touching the raised surface

Our exhibition was supported by Olivia Blake MP. She helped us to book the exhibition space and visited us during the week. We took the opportunity to introduce her to Deafblind Manual and practiced the alphabet together.

Olivia Blake MP being shown deafblind manual on her hand

One of the deafblind people featured in our exhibition was Paige. Paige is deafblind and recently ran the marathon for Sense. She and her sister joined us for the opening gathering of the exhibition. Paige also featured in a Metro news story during the week where she shared her experiences of dating as a deafblind person.

Two blond smiling women looking at the camera.  They are stood next to a photo of one of the women in an exhibition

As the exhibition was in parliament we contacted MPs and invited them to visit the stand during the week. We were visited by lots of MPs and peers from across the parties including including the Minister for Disabled People, the Speaker of the Commons and the disability spokesperson for the SNP.

Three people standing in front of an exhibition smiling at the camera.  One of them is the speaker of the house of commons.

As well as visiting the stand we also asked MPs to share information about Deafblind Awareness Week on their social media channels. Lots of them shared our new mythbusting videos that were a hit across social media. At various points in the week the #DeafblindAwarenessWeek hashtag and our Sense twitter account were the most tweeted by MPs.

When MPs visited our stand we gave them a Sense badge. We were delighted to see so many of them wearing their badges in parliament throughout the week.

Screenshot of Stephen Flynn MP wearing a Sense badge in parliament.  There is a caption from BBC news that says 'Prime Minister's questions'

It was a really exciting week, and was great to be at the heart of parliament raising awareness about deafblindness. We were pleased to see how engaged MPs and peers were and hope that they have left knowing more about how to support their deafblind constituents.

More information about how Sense celebrated Deafblind Awareness Week can be found on our website.