The term “deaf-blind” seems to indicate the sum of deafness + blindness. However, the combination of these two sensory losses is much more like deafness multiplied by blindness = Deaf-blindness. The combined loss is profound! Children and adults who are deaf-blind have unique challenges, especially with independence, accessing information, communication with others, and moving around in their world.
Deaf-blindness sounds like a condition of having NO vision and NO hearing. This is rarely the case. Most people who are deaf-blind have some vision and some hearing. Educationally, individuals are considered to be deaf-blind when the combination of their hearing and sight loss causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they require significant and unique adaptations in their educational programs. (link to Federal Definition of Deaf-Blindness)
Nearly 10,000 children, ages birth to 21, have been identified as “deaf-blind” through the National Center on Deaf-Blindness annual census of state deaf-blind projects. Recent estimates indicate there are about 2,400,000 individuals in the U.S with combined vision and hearing loss. The majority of those individuals are senior citizens.
The National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) is a great resource for learning more about deaf-blindness. One section, DB 101, is designed to introduce you to children who are deaf-blind. These brief tutorials provide information about the nature of deaf-blindness, the impact of combined vision and hearing loss on communication and social interactions, and the importance of individualized educational strategies and supports. Learn more: DB 101 and DB 101 en Español.
Every year, during the week of Helen Keller’s birthday, we celebrate Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Day.
In 2013, in honor of Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, NFADB released videos, highlighting stories about life with a child or young adult who is deaf-blind.
Learn about deaf-blindness from family members. Professionals can teach volumes about deaf-blindness, but family members* live with deaf-blindness 24/7 and are experts when it comes to their family member. Learn from the experts!
*Family member = Parent (including regular, biological, foster, adoptive or any other type), sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandparent, and any other family relation that is in a support and caregiving role.
Each state has a federally-funded deaf-blind project to help families and educators to provide services for children (0-21) who are deaf-blind. Find your state project here
The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults is a federally funded national resource for information and services for youth and adults who are deaf-blind. HKNC provides rehabilitation training at its campus/headquarters in New York, and regional offices throughout the country.