National Deafblind Census, NTAC: "The term, 'children with deafblindness,' means children and youth having auditory and visual impairments, the combination of which creates such severe communication and other developmental and learning needs that they cannot be appropriately educated without special education and related services, beyond those that would be provided solely for children with hearing impairments, visual impairments, or severe disabilities to address their educational needs due to these concurrent disabilities."
(2) Deaf-blindness. A student with deaf-blindness is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for deaf-blindness as stated in 34 CFR, §300.7(c)(2). In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.7(c)(2), a student with deaf-blindness is one who, based on the evaluations specified in subsections (c)(3) and (c)(12) of this section:
(A) meets the eligibility criteria for auditory impairment specified in subsection (c)(3) of this section and visual impairment specified in subsection (c)(12) of this section;
(B) meets the eligibility criteria for a student with a visual impairment and has a suspected hearing loss that cannot be demonstrated conclusively, but a speech/language therapist, a certified speech and language therapist, or a licensed speech language pathologist indicates there is no speech at an age when speech would normally be expected;
(C) has documented hearing and visual losses that, if considered individually, may not meet the requirements for auditory impairment or visual impairment, but the combination of such losses adversely affects the student's educational performance; or
(D) has a documented medical diagnosis of a progressive medical condition that will result in concomitant hearing and visual losses that, without special education intervention, will adversely affect the student's educational performance.
Meeting eligibility in one of these ways requires both hearing and vision professionals at least attend ARD meetings.
The majority of students reported on the Deafblind Census will fall into one of the 4 categories above.
Examples of (A) could include
a child with Usher Syndrome 1, where the hearing loss is well documented and the vision loss has resulted in visual field loss.
a child with hearing loss and vision result of prenatal exposure to CMV.loss as the cause of both hearing and vision loss.
An example of (B) could include students with suspected hearing loss and the team needs one year to confirm or deny the presence of the hearing loss. It was not intended that these students maintain this form of eligibility for longer than one year.
A examples of (C) could include the student with Down Syndrome who has high myopia and a mild fluctuating conductive hearing loss. Alone, these losses may not impact education. However, given the presence of Down Syndrome together with these mild losses, the educational impact of the combined losses may be greater than anticipated. This could be confirmed by a functional vision and functional hearing assessment.
A example of (D) would include students with Usher type 2 where the hearing loss is present from birth but the vision loss is slow to develop. These students may not show any vision loss until very late in their high school years but there may be value working on a transition plan for them. There may be value in connecting the to other students and families with Usher type 2.
There may be students who could be placed on the Deafblind Census that an ARD committee has decided do not meet the above criteria. These could include:
A student in general education who does not need special education and yet has a combined hearing and vision loss (including progressive losses). An example would include a student with Usher type 2 for whom the hearing loss is not creating educational need and the vision loss has not progressed to the point of educational need either. A student like this may or may not be receiving 504 services
A student who meets eligibility but the ARD committee has decided to not consider one or another of the sensory categories, usually for social/emotional reasons. An example of this would be the student with Usher type 1 who has grown up profoundly deaf, uses visual communication and is considered too emotionally fragile at this time to receive the additional label of visually impaired.
Students suspected of being deafblind but more assessment is needed. These students can remain on the census for year as assessment data is being collected. Assessment could include functional vision and functional hearing testing in the absence of good eye medical or audiological information. This might include the student who is so medically fragile that trips outside the home to get this kind of medical information are not easily possible.