Assessment of Children who are Deaf-Blind

The appropriate assessment of students is the crucial first step in developing a good educational plan.  But assessment of children who are deaf-blind can be daunting.  GSAP hopes the information and resources you find on this wiki will be helpful to local education agencies and families who are serving students who are deaf-blind.

     In her guide, Assessing Communication and Learning in Young Children Who are Deafblind or Who Have Multiple DisabilitiesCharity Rowland, Ph.D says:

There is no single definition of assessment. In one sense, assessment is a tool, a means to an end, perhaps to qualify a child for special services or to document a child’s acquisition of skills. However, assessment is also a process of gathering information about a child’s skills and needs from many sources and across many contexts for the purpose of enhancing the child’s education.  Assessment is also the starting point of the child’s education. For better or worse, assessment results can influence educational decisions about a child for years to come. Finally, assessments are used to evaluate a child’s progress and the effectiveness of his educational program. Thus, accurate, comprehensive, and applicable results are essential for the child’s educational and personal success.  
Her guide continues to outline an approach to assessment of children who are deaf-blind that includes a team approach, selecting appropriate assessment instruments, and conducting informal observations in multiple settings.
The psychological evaluation of students who are deaf-blind can be a challenging task. School psychologists face a lack of appropriate tests designed for students with vision and hearing loss, the communication barriers presented by students who may have no symbolic language, and because of the low-incidence of the population – a lack of experience working with students who are deaf-blind. In his wonderful fact sheet Psychological Evaluation of Children who are Deaf-Blind: An Overview with Recommendations for Practice, Harvey Mar outlines the problems facing psychologists and offers suggestions for making evaluations meaningful. He provides quality indicators which focus on multiple observations of activities that are relevant and meaningful to the student as part of the student’s natural routines. He lists desired outcomes of a psychological evaluation focusing on recommendations that help the educational team and family with strategies, adaptations and supports, and appropriate goals.