We are also sending sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired on daily news.

However, those who have lost both hearing and sight, also called 'def blind' in English, communicate by directly touching the hand of the other person who is using sign language.

It is estimated that there are about 10,000 people with disabilities in Korea, but there are many barriers to overcome.

Reporters Kim Min-joon and Jang Seon-yi will deliver this in turn.

<Reporter Kim Min-joon>

Defblind Son Chang-hwan got on the subway on his way to work.

He barely sits in the senior seat, but he doesn't feel comfortable.

[Lee Kyung-eun/Activity Supporter for the Disabled: (Mr. Chang-hwan) knows that he is a non-disabled person because he is keeping his eyes open.

(There are times when I want to know why a young person is sitting there.)]

We arrived at the Welfare Foundation office asking for directions by handwriting.

There is a device that reads the screen, but Mr. Changhwan, who cannot hear, needs an assistant to work as a counselor.

He can't even relax during lunch.

[Hong Yu-mi/Miral Welfare Foundation Helen Keller Center Director: When a bowl comes out, it automatically goes away.

Then they say 'It's hot next to you', but since you can't see or hear it, just touch it.]

There are 15 types of disabilities recognized in Korea.

Defblind people like Changhwan are not classified as a separate type, but as a 'double handicap' that combines sight and hearing.

About 10,000 people across the country are simultaneously registered as blind and hearing impaired.

However, it is estimated that the actual number of defblinds is much higher as there are people who are registered with only one disability because they do not know how to register twice.

A budget is needed to support them, and to do so, an accurate fact-finding survey is required, but even that is difficult because the government does not recognize them as a type of disability, so there is no basis for an investigation.

What they need most is communication support.

Defblinds communicate by 'tentacle'.

Tentacling is a method of communicating by directly touching the other person's sign language with your hands.

It is difficult for non-disabled people to understand, so an interpreter is needed, but there are only about 50 active tentacle interpreters nationwide.

Even in the government's employment support for the disabled, they are alienated because they cannot communicate.

[Korea Employment Agency for the Disabled: (Audio-blind) We do not operate a dedicated course.

In fact, there are limits to getting a job by learning the contents of education through tentacles or getting a job.]

(Video coverage: Oh Young-chun, Cho Chang-hyun, Lee Yong-han, Choi Jun-sik, Video editing: Park Jeong-sam)


<Reporter Jang Seon-yi> With

assistive devices 7-year-old Siwoo enlarges a picture book up to 34 times.

It is a book for toddlers from 2 to 6 years old, but it is still too much for Siwoo, who is born with defblindness.

5-year-old Ji-hoon, who has been relying on high myopia glasses and hearing aids since birth, is also slower than his peers in speaking and writing.

[Ham Min-ae/Park Ji-hoon's mother: I don't have any writing skills.

What words can I say right now? Mom, Dad, Strawberry (that's about it).


In their early childhood when they are in the midst of learning to speak, if they do not receive language education on time, they may develop intellectual disability or even autism, which they did not originally have.

[Hahm Min-ae/Park Ji-hoon's mother: For example, they say they play ball (at a special school for the visually impaired).

Receive the ball by sound...


But in the case of my child, both of them have disabilities, so they can't hear.


We are dependent on welfare centers and private speech therapy clinics, and even those can take years to become available.

As a result of a survey by the Korea Disabled Persons Development Institute, one out of three defblind people do not go to school at all, and more than half of those who have completed elementary or middle school.

Even if they enter school, there is no education system for them, so they are said to be virtually neglected.

[Hahm Min-ae/Park Ji-hoon's mother: When I think about going to school, I'm really really at a loss right now.

Because it is difficult to choose a personalized education for my child.


In October of last year, the Enforcement Decree of the Special Education Act was revised, and the hearing-blind were included in the education target, but there is no one to teach them.

[Jeong Woo-jung/Jeju Island Welfare Center for the Deaf: Just because the law has changed, we can't find a teacher who can educate that (def-blind) child right away.

There are no separate classrooms, and the school is in a very difficult position (I've been.) ]

We desperately need practical alternatives, such as fostering special teachers and setting up special schools.

(Video coverage: Oh Young-chun, Cho Chang-hyun, Lee Yong-han, Choi Jun-shik, video editing: Choi Hye-ran)



Reporter Kim Min-joon, who covered this story, is out.

Q. Why didn't you admit 'Def Blind'?

[Reporter Kim Min-joon: It is because of equity.

Last year, in the National Assembly, there were already two attempts to point out this defblind as a separate obstacle, and President Seok-Yeol Yoon also made a promise during his candidate days.

However, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has many other overlapping disabilities, such as vision and retardation.

There are many other overlapping disabilities like this, but if you pick out only the def blind and designate it separately, equity with other overlapping disabilities will be broken.


Q. Why should it be recognized separately? 

[Reporter Kim Min-joon: I think you can pay attention to this concept of 'impossibility'.

As difficult as it sounds, other overlapping disabilities can be replaced with other senses or tools that are mutually reciprocal.

Well, for example, if the aforementioned visual and physical disabilities are combined, vision can be replaced with hearing, and physical disabilities can be replaced with assistive devices.

However, in the case of defblind, where vision and hearing are combined to complement each other, you will not be able to hear voice support and you will not be able to see this sign language.

It is virtually impossible to find another way to replace the disability.


Q. Any foreign cases to refer to?

[Reporter Kim Min-joon: The United States is a representative country that acknowledges the impossibility of substitution.

Already in 1967, a related law called the Helen Keller Act was made to recognize the legal status of Def Blind, and although there are differences around, we also operate welfare facilities.

In addition, we are focusing on children's education by training dedicated special teachers called Defblind Specialists.


(Video coverage: Choi Jun-shik, video editing: Park Jeong-sam · Choi Hye-ran)