What is deafblindness?
Deafblindness refers to a combined hearing and vision impairment, often referred to as a dual sensory loss. The degree of loss for each sense can vary significantly, thus affecting individuals’ life experience in unique ways.
Individuals who are deafblind do not have to be completely deaf or completely blind to qualify for services. In fact, a child or young adult may have very usable residual vision or hearing but, with the combined sensory losses, functions in a way that is developmentally different from that of hearing/sighted people. Individuals who are considered deafblind represent an extremely diverse population. The range of hearing and vision loss per individual can vary significantly. While one student’s primary disability may be profound deafness, another student’s primary disability may be vision loss. Regardless of the leading issue, the determining factor in receiving technical assistance from NYDBC is the combination of both a hearing and vision impairment.
NYDBC operates under the federal definitions for school age and early intervention in its identification of children who are deafblind.
Special Education (Ages 3-21) Federal Definition
Deafblindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness. 34 CFR 300.8 (c) (2)
Early Intervention (Ages 0-3) Federal Definition
Infants and toddlers with disabilities means individuals from birth through age two who need early intervention services because they are experiencing developmental delays, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: cognitive development, physical development including vision and hearing, communication development, social or emotional development, adaptive development, have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay or who are at risk of having substantial developmental delays if early intervention services are not provided. 34 CFR 303.16