5.6 Understanding DeafBlind

Students who are DeafBlind may face access and inclusion challenges at the post-secondary level. These challenges may impinge on overall student adjustment and satisfaction with the university experience.

Areas that may be of concern when teaching a DeafBlind student could be issues of full and equal access to all class materials, safety, mobility, communication, social interaction, and inclusion in class discussions.

Students may be deaf blind from birth; others may be born deaf or hard of hearing and become blind later in life. Still others may be adventitiously DeafBlind-that is, they are born with both sight and hearing but lose some or all of these senses as a result of accident or illness.

DeafBlind is sometimes accompanied by additional disabilities. Causes of DeafBlind such as maternal rubella can also affect the heart and the brain. Some genetic syndromes or brain injuries that cause deaf-blind may also cause cognitive disabilities and/or physical disabilities.

Many DeafBlind students use a combination of assistive aids including tactile interpreting, note taking, Braille books, eBooks, and various assistive technologies.

Helpful hints for teaching DeafBlind students:

● Choose classroom texts early so that ample time is available for OSWD to prepare Braille versions.
● Arrange seating that accommodates the deaf-blind student and the need for tactile interpreting.
● Plan for field trips requiring interpreters or other necessary accommodations.
● If any room changes occur, be sure to announce these changes.
● Use alternative formats for complex assignments.
● Provide hands-on experiences and use manipulatives.
● Give the student plenty of advance notice about turning in projects.
● Keep paths and work surfaces clear.
● When interacting with students, indicate to the student when you arrive or leave an area; explain unusual occurrences.
● Set up in-class communication rules to avoid confusion in identifying who is speaking.
● Be open to suggestions about how best to be accommodating.