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When we hear the term deaf-blind, we often imagine a person who is unable to hear or see anything. This is typically not the case. A range of vision and hearing loss can occur in combination. Functional levels may vary from hard-of-hearing and partially sighted to profoundly deaf and totally blind. Many children who are deaf-blind also have additional physical and intellectual disabilities and complex health needs.
From the Code of Federal Regulations: 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 300.8 (c) (2)
For infants and toddlers receiving Part C early intervention services, deaf-blindness is defined as: “Concomitant hearing and vision impairments or delays, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and intervention needs that specialized early intervention services are needed”.
For the Helen Keller National Center – the term ”individual who is deaf-blind” means any individual – (A) (i) who has a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses, or a field defect such that the peripheral diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees, or a progressive visual loss having a prognosis leading to one or both these conditions;
(ii) who has a chronic hearing impairment so severe that most speech cannot be understood with optimum amplification, or a progressive hearing loss having a prognosis leading to this condition; and
(iii) for whom the combination of impairments described in clauses (i) and (ii) cause extreme difficulty in attaining independence in daily life activities, achieving psychosocial adjustment, or obtaining a vocation;
(B) who despite the inability to be measured accurately for hearing and vision loss due to cognitive or behavioral constraints, or both, can be determined through functional and performance assessment to have severe hearing and visual disabilities that cause extreme difficulty in attaining independence in daily life activities, achieving psychosocial adjustment, or obtaining vocational objectives