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What is Deafblindness? Who is Deafblind?

What is Deafblindness?

The term "deafblind" may also be referred to as dual sensory impairment or dual sensory loss or spelled as deaf-blind. In Colorado, we use the term deafblind to connote it as a unique condition and not simply a disability of vision loss plus hearing loss.

Deafblindness is a combination of vision and hearing loss. Deafblindness encompasses a spectrum from mildly hard of hearing plus mildly visually impaired to totally deaf and blind or combinations of the severity of vision and hearing loss. It is rare that an individual with deafblindness would be completely blind and completely deaf. Either the vision and/or the hearing loss can be present at birth or acquired.

Individuals who have a combined vision and hearing loss have unique communication, learning, and mobility challenges due to their dual sensory loss. Deafblindness is a unique and diverse condition due to the wide range of sensory capabilities, possible presence of additional disabilities, and the age of onset for the vision and hearing loss.

Who is Deafblind?

A child with deafblindness would include the infant who has a diagnosis of Retinopathy of Prematurity (a retinal condition that is associated with premature birth) and has an acquired hearing loss due to meningitis at age two. Another person with deafblindness may have been born with a profound hearing loss and developed a later vision loss due to a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa. The child may be identified as having both vision and hearing loss at birth or later in the school years, depending on the onset of the dual sensory loss.

Degree of Visual Impairment

Degree
of
Hearing
Impairment  

 

Normal vision
20/20

Visual Acuity
20/70-20/200

Visual Acuity
20/200-20/400

Peripheral Field
less than 20%

Visual Acuity
20/400-20/1000

Light
Perception

Totally Blind

0-25 dB

       

26-40 dB

 

D

C

C

C

C

C

41-55 dB

 

D

B

B

B

B

B

56-70 dB

 

B

B

B

B

B

B

71-90 dB

 

C

A

A

A

A

A

< 91 dB

 

C

A

A

A

A

A


Chart Key: Each of the categories below may be considered DEAFBLIND

A

Children who are deaf/severely hearing impaired AND legally blind/visually impaired

 

B

Children who have sensory impairments of both vision and hearing, one of which is severe and the other is moderate to severe

 

C

Children who have sensory impairments of both vision and hearing, one of which is severe AND have additional learning and/or language disabilities, which result in the need for specialized services.

D

Children who have auditory/visual impairments of a relatively mild to moderate degree AND additional learning and/or language disabilities which result in the need for specialized services, or who have been diagnosed as having sensory impairments which are progressive in nature.

E

NOT ON THE CHART BUT MAY ALSO BE CONSIDERED DEAFBLIND:
Children who have significant support needs due to generalized central nervous system dysfunction, who also exhibit measurable auditory and visual impairments, or deficits in auditory AND visual functioning

The Colorado definition of deafblind is as follows:

Deafblindness occurs in three of 100,000 births. In Colorado, just over 130 children and youth (ages birth through 21 years) have been identified as having both a vision and hearing loss. These individuals are eligible for services through the Colorado Services for Children and Youth with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss Project.

Annual Student Census: When a learner qualifies as a child with deaf-blindness, according to state eligibility criteria, the child is registered with the Colorado State Deaf-Blind Census. On an annual basis, the state and federal governments collect demographic and educational data on the children between the ages of birth through 21 who have been identified as having combined vision and hearing loss. The purpose of this data collection is to help in planning for personnel, educational, and transitional services. These data are also one factor the U.S. Department of Education uses to determine how much funding Colorado Services to Children and Youth with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss will receive. All information is kept strictly confidential as stated in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. For more information about the Colorado State Deaf-Blind Census, download a PDF copy of the Frequently Asked Questions about the CO DB Census (PDF).

National Deaf-Blind Census Count Information:

For more information about the Colorado Services for Children and Youth with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss Project, please contact:

Tanni Anthony
Phone: (303) 866-6681

Gina Quintana
Phone: (303) 866-6605


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