The Kentucky Deaf-Blind Project provides statewide technical assistance and training to persons who have a combination of vision and hearing challenges. Services are offered to persons free of charge from birth to 22 years of age, and also to their families and service providers.
What is a dual sensory impairment? A dual sensory impairment is sometimes referred to as deaf-blindness. This does not always mean that an individual has no vision or no hearing. It means that an individual has challenges with both vision and hearing. Many times the challenges are actual vision and hearing losses. Often times the challenges exist because a person is having difficulty processing the information they see and hear.
Why is it important to address vision and hearing challenges as early as possible?
- Vision and hearing are critical to early and ongoing development.
- What we see and hear helps us to form our understanding of the world.
- We learn by imitating what we see and hear.
- When we see or hear something we are motivated to move.
- We gain pleasure from what we see and hear and this gives us an incentive to learn by peaking our curiosity.
Communication is essential for everyone. We use communication for social interactions, learning, and teaching. It allows us to form friendships and become a part of our community where we live. Isolation often occurs for those who are left without a mechanism to communicate with those around them. So, think about a child who is deaf-blind. Hearing and vision (our distance senses) are most important in the world around us. The combined loss has a profound impact on how a child interacts with the world.
Who are children with deaf-blindness? It is not as simple as “blindness plus deafness.” The term deaf-blind usually refers to someone with varying degrees of vision and hearing losses. It differs from person to person. However, statistics imply that within the United States alone, nearly 10,000 children are considered “deaf-blind.”
Donna Carpenter, Ed.D.
Kentucky Deaf/Blind Project