The invisibility of deaf-blind people


Dinamárcia Maciel de Oliveira - Prosecutor

In 2011, I received an email a citizen identified as Alex Garcia, a deaf-blind person asking for providences for persons with disabilities in the streets of São Luiz Gonzaga. Attending him was such a surprising and unforgetable thing due to his tenacity and knowledge

Now I was contacted by him once more and I could see his situation after the aggravation of his disease, which is a rare and progressive one: He had almost completely lost his vision, being able to see just some shadows with his right eye. In front of me, such a capable person, and, at the same time,a hiper vulnerable one.

I searched for a infra-constitucional legislation that could support Alex and other deaf-blind persons. But there isn't any law which conceives deaf-blind persons to have a guide-interpreter. There isn't even any kind of project or official program concerning that family members of deaf-blind persons can be trained for such fundamental help.

They can communicate through various models. In general, they need closeness and touch. I learnt a little to be able to communicate with Alex. He uses "hand writing" we have to write letters on the palm of his hand, using our index finger as a pen.

Alex is a post-symbolic deaf-blind person (his disability was acquired after language apprehension), the first one to have a university degree in Brazil and the firt one to participate, in 2013, of a United Nations meeting in New York, writer and columnist, lecturer in more than 30 countries. However, there are no reliable official numbers on how many Brazilians are deaf-blind people. But in worst situations than Alex's are the pre-symbolic deaf-blind persons, that is, the ones who were born with this disability and who are so often hidden by their families due to ignorance.

So, we filled a Public Civil Lawsuit against the State and the City, based on a constitutional right to dignity of the person, for the provision of a guide-interpreter to the attendant for six hours a day. The injunction hasn't been analyzed yet by the Justice, which is waiting for the Word from the defendants, and it is not believed naively that this lawsuit can be a solution to the problem. It is just a cry – that Alex cannot hear- or a light – that Alex cannot see - so that deaf-blind people, invisible, can be noticed by the healthy people who are the authors of the Public Policies.


It is a free translation for disclosure purposes. The original article is written in Portuguese on the website of the newspaper Zero Hora here: http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/opiniaozh/2014/12/04/artigo-a-invisibilidade-dos-surdos-cegos/

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Alex Garcia
Deaf-blind person from Brazil