Does this Child See? Does this Child Hear?

What is Deafblindness?

Deafblindness is a loss in both the vision and hearing senses*. This condition affects over 12,000 children between birth and 21 years of age in the United States. Deafblindness has over 70 known causes; however, regardless of the cause, the challenges of deafblindness are life long. Appropriate education must address both the hearing and vision impairments as well as any other disabilities that may be present.

Children who are deafblind may exhibit a wide range of behaviors duringinteractions with family, friends, and their environment as a result of the sensory losses. The losses may occur in varying degrees and a child need not exhibit all of the behaviors identified on this web page to be considered deafblind. For example, a child may show only one of the behaviors that indicates a hearing impairment; but show several of the behaviors that indicate a vision impairment. The combined effects of both of these sensory losses, even if both are mild, may qualify him or her as deafblind.

Parents and professionals, upon observing these behaviors, may need assistance in confirming the sensory loss. This web page provides generalinformation on deafblindness. Contacting the Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project is the first step in securing assistance.

* The federal definition of deafblindness states, "Deaf-blindness 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 300.7 (c) (2)".

Behaviors that May Indicate a Visual Impairment

The following questions are designed to help parents and professionals determine if there is a possibility of a vision loss. If you answer yes to questions in both of the following sections, the child might have a dual sensory loss and should receive complete vision and hearing assessments. The Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project can assist with referrals and assessments for individuals who have impairments in both vision and hearing.

Does the child or student . . .

  • often bump into persons and objects?
  • have difficulty walking or crawling smoothly across shadows or areas that look different (carpet or tile)?
  • need to touch or have an object close to the face to identify it?
  • prefer only brightly colored or shiny objects?
  • have difficulty reaching for and grasping objects in a coordinated manner?
  • squint, cover, or close one eye when looking at objects?
  • lose interest or tire easily when performing close tasks?
  • usually turn toward a light source?
  • fail to recognize and respond to familiar faces?
  • have difficulty following moving objects with his/her eyes?
  • have eyes that are red or watery, not clear?

Behaviors that May Indicate a Hearing Impairment

The following questions are designed to help parents and professionals determine if there is a possibility of a hearing loss. If you answer yes to questions in the above section as well as the following section, the child might have a dual sensory loss and should receive complete vision and hearing assessments. The Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project can assist with referrals and assessments for individuals who have impairments in both vision and hearing.

Does the child or student . . .

  • fail to react to loud noises?
  • frequently ask to have things repeated or follow directions incorrectly?
  • seem confused when verbal directions are given in noisy environments such as playgrounds or school cafeterias?
  • indicate agreement (nods head) when you know he/she does not understand what was said?
  • have difficulty locating the sources of sounds?
  • fail to recognize and respond appropriately to words or common home noises (telephone, door knock, television)?
  • understand better when looking directly to the speaker?

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