Deaf-blindness is one of the most serious disabilities. The electronic cane uses proprioception (ability to know the position of its members in relation to its body) to know the direction of the obstacles. The vibratory information given by the device makes it possible to know the distance to the obstacle. The tool is therefore a priori accessible for blind deaf people. We have had several cases of very hard of hearing people in classical cane training, and this is managed by some adaptations of the standard protocol.
On the other hand, just accessing a totally deaf and blind person has already been a problem and it took us nearly 15 years to find an opportunity. We did not have the means to disseminate information to these people who in almost all cases are under guardianship, with limited means of communication and often in geographically isolated centers. It was by chance a friend of a blind deaf person mastering writing and email and curious about new technologies that we were able to set up a training session in the home of deaf-blind people "La Peyrouse" .
We were very well received and helped by the center staff. Four people asked to take the first training course. The IMDV provided the equipment (4 Minitacts plus a spare in the event of a breakdown) and the participation of its volunteers Aziz Zogaghi and René Farcy. The ACBE Grand Sud (Association Cannes Blanches Electronics Grand Sud) has made available its locomotion instructor Cendrine Carrer. This one, very experienced on the electronic canes, also has the bases of communication with the deaf persons.
We were surprised by the receptivity and responsiveness of the participants, as well as their willingness, their ability to understand from a few words what to do. We also learned about the techniques of using the tool, because without hearing everything refers to the information provided by the device. Some mistakes made by the trainees helped to improve our exercises. A second session took place in September 2018 a few months after the first, we were able to make a first assessment and see the reality of the use. 2 people on the 4 initials wished to continue. The underlying difficulties may have been more social than technical. Indeed in the center there are collisions between people who can be violent. However, it is difficult to enforce travel rules and determine responsibilities. Having a way to perceive others means being responsible in the event of a collision. On the other hand the device was exploited to locate other people in order to enter into discussion, a use we had not imagined.