International Day of Deafblindness Date in the current year: June 27, 2024

International Day of Deafblindness International Day of Deafblindness, also known as International Day of Persons with Deafblindness, is observed annually on June 27. Its date was chosen to commemorate the birthday of disability rights advocate Helen Keller, who was the first deafblind person in the U.S. to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Deafblindness is a condition characterized by little or no useful hearing and little or no useful sight; degrees of visual impairment and hearing loss vary by person. The condition is very varied and occurs in different forms, but all types of deafblindness can be divided into two big groups: congenital and acquired.

Congenital deafblindness is present from birth. It can be caused by pregnancy complications (effects of alcohol and/or drug consumption, infection, premature birth, birth trauma) or genetic conditions that are evident from birth. Acquired deafblindness develops during life due to genetic conditions that are not evident from birth, illness (for example, meningitis), somatic injuries, or age-related loss of hearing and/or vision. Some people with deafblindness are born blind and loss their hearing at a later stage in life, and vice versa.

Because of the inherent diversity of the condition, deafblind people can use various means of communication, and each deafblind individual has unique needs regarding communication, education, lifestyle, and work. Children with congenital deafblindness or those who became deafblind at a very early age require special support because their unique condition will inevitably affect their cognitive, emotional, language, and social development.

One of the most inspiring examples of a person overcoming the barriers posed by their deafblindness is Helen Keller. She was born on June 27, 1880 and lost vision and hearing at 19 months old due to an unknown illness, now believed to have been meningitis. She learned to communicate with her family using home signs and distinguish people by their footsteps.

When Keller’s mother learned of the successful education of a deafblind woman named Laura Brigdman at the Perkins Institute for the Blind, she contacted the institute. Its alumna, a 20-year-old visually impaired woman named Anne Sullivan, became Keller’s governess and companion. She taught Helen language, including reading and writing, which made it possible for Keller to continue formal education.

Helen attended the Perkins Institute for the Blind and several other schools before being admitted to Radcliffe College of Harvard University. Her education was paid for by industrialist and financier Henry Huttleston Rogers and his wife Abbie, who were introduced to Keller by her friend Mark Twain. Helen graduated in 1904, becoming the first deafblind person in the country to earn a BA degree. Keller lived a long and prolific life; she was an author, lecturer, and political activist who campaigned for the rights of people with disabilities, labor rights, women’s suffrage, and world peace.

International Day of Deafblindness was launched by the World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB), a global NGO that works to improve the quality of life and protect the rights of persons with deafblindness. The main goal of the observance is to increase the public awareness for people with deafblindness, their rights, and the challenges they face on a daily basis. In the United States, June 27 is also known as Helen Keller Day. It was created by presidential proclamation in 2006.

Remind me with Google Calendar


International Observances


International Day of Deafblindness, international observances, deafblindness, Helen Keller, World Federation of the Deafblind