The word “deaf-blind” may seem as if a person cannot hear or see at all. The term actually describes a person who has some degree of loss in both vision and hearing. The amount of loss in either vision or hearing will vary from person to person. The combination of losses limits access to auditory and visual information. This can severely limit an individual’s natural opportunities to learn and communicate with others.
How does someone become deaf-blind?
About 50 percent of people in the deaf-blind community have Usher Syndrome. This is a genetic condition where a person is born deaf or hard of hearing, and loses his or her vision later. Other common causes include birth trauma, optic nerve issues, accident/ injury, and CHARGE syndrome.
What help is available?
The Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO) is a valuable resource for families. MDE-LIO provides technical assistance and resources to enable local service providers to serve and improve the quality of education for students with a visual impairment or those who are deaf and/or hard of hearing including those with multiple impairments. Help available includes:
- Braille and other accessibility resources
- Independent living skills
- Classes and workshops
- Orientation and mobility
How do students who are deaf-blind communicate?
Deaf-blind people have many different ways of communication. The methods they use vary, depending on the causes of their combined vision and hearing loss, their backgrounds, and their education. Check out the American Association of the Deaf-Blind for specifics.
What do I need to think about for the IEP?
Michigan has a specific eligibility eligibility-deaf blind. There are many supports and services that a student with deaf-blindness may need to be successful. Accommodations and modifications are part of the IEP process, and there are specific. Visit our website for more info on the IEP process.
- The Unique Educational Needs of Students Who Are Deaf-Blind
- Teaching Strategies and Content Modifications for Children with Deaf-Blindness
- Comparison of Possible Supports for a Student Who Are DeafBlind
- Literacy for Children with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss
- Deaf-Blindness: Educational Services Guidelines
- Deaf-Blind IEP Guide
Is there some technology that can help my student learn?
Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA. Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Check out the TechMatrix for suggestions for finding educational and assistive technology products for students with disabilities. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.
Many types of technology and equipment are available for persons who are deaf-blind. Examples include mobility canes, closed circuit televisions (CCTV), Braille, Braille TTYs, TTYs with large print displays, and Braille or large print watches or clocks.
- Tech considerations for students who are deaf-blind
- Technology MDE LIO
- Bureau of Services for Blind Persons
Where can I find support?
DB Central provides free services, year-round, for both families and professionals supporting someone who is DeafBlind ages birth through 26.
What other organizations focus on deaf-blindness?
- DeafBlind Central
- Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired
- National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
- DeafBlind Unit of the Michigan Commission for the Blind
- Michigan Commission for the Blind
- National Family Association for Deaf-Blind
- Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults
- National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness