LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Louisiana Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness committee, also known as HKDBA, hosted its 6th annual deaf-blind awareness ceremony in Lake Charles for the first time. Though recent census results show Louisiana has a high number of deaf-blind people, locals with the disability say they don't want pit, they simply want help and awareness.
"I am very, very pleased to have this many here to show that they are very motivated to come learn more about the deaf-blind," said deaf-blind committee member Jackie Broussard.
Guest speakers from Lafayette, Shreveport and New Orleans shared information about local services available for the deaf-blind.
"South Louisiana preponderance of individuals who are of the Acadian decent," said director of the Louisiana Commission for the Deaf Naomi DeDual. "With the Acadians came a number of individuals with the Usher Syndrome genetic variation."
Usher syndrome is a rare genetic disorder caused by a mutation of any one of the 10 genes resulting in a combination of hearing loss and visual impairment.
DeDual discussed available services including a federally funded program that provides the deaf-blind with special technology to help them better connect.
"One of the most popular items is being able to operate your iPhone through a brail device," said Scott Crawford with the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Program.
DeDual also spoke of recent state funds to help allocate more support service providers.
"The SSP program provides an individual who is deaf-blind with an aid who can communicate with tactual sign language," said DeDual. "They also provide orientation mobility assistance so they can have access to public and private services in their community."
First time organizer Catherine Guillory says she simply has one message for the deaf-blind community.
"We are doing this together," said Guillory, who is blind. "You are not alone."
Governor Jindal recently proclaimed the week of June 22-28 as Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness week.