What’s in a Name?
The term deaf-blind seems to indicate the sum of deafness + blindness. However, the combination of these two sensory losses in much more like deafness multiplied by blindness = Deaf-blindness. The combined loss is profound! People 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)
Estimates indicate there are about 45,000 to 50,000 individuals in the U.S who are deaf-blind.
The National Center on Deaf-Blindness 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.
Deaf-Blind Awareness Videos
In 2013, in honor of Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, NFADB release the following Deaf-Blind Awareness videos. The intent was to share family stories about their 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.
State Deaf-Blind Projects
Each state has a federally-funded State Deaf-Blind project to help families and educators to provide services for children (0-21) who are deaf-blind. The National Center on Deaf-Blindness is a great resource for connecting with your state project.