National Deaf-Blind Child Count

  • January 3rd, 2012
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Each year, the US Department of Education, of Special Education Programs (OSEP), requires the Pennsylvania Deaf-Blind Initiative to conduct the Annual National Deaf-Blind Child Count. This data collection is for all infants, toddlers, and children (birth through age 21) who are Deaf-Blind or at risk for Deaf-Blindness and are enrolled in early intervention or special education programs and receive services as of December 1st.

The collection of Deaf-Blind specific child count data and its ensuing analysis provides valuable information and allows for allocation to all states for educating infants, toddlers, and children with and at risk for dual sensory impairment and their families. It also supports identification of research needs and the development of personnel preparation programs. Not reporting or under reporting the correct data can jeopardize funding for technical assistance training and special education programs or early intervention services.

Many states have been under identifying students that are Deaf-Blind. It is possible that many of these children are being reported as students with multiple disabilities. The term Deaf-Blindness is defined as a combination of a vision and hearing loss, requiring specific instructional strategies that address the presence of both sensory impairments. It is the combination of the vision and hearing loss that compounds the impact on how an individual interacts and learns.

Deaf-Blind Child Count

What is the Deaf-Blind Child Count?
All state Deaf-Blind projects that receive federal funding are required to complete an annual registry or “child count” of children and youth, birth through 21 years of age, who are deaf-blind or otherwise known as dual sensory impaired. The data is compiled into a confidential report and submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by April 1st of each year.

Why is it important to participate in the child count?
Funding for technical assistance and training is based upon the number of children identified. The Pennsylvania Deaf-Blind Initiative provides technical assistance, training, and support for families, service providers and educational teams working with children and youth who are deaf-blind. Project staff, work closely with school districts and Intermediate Units throughout the state, early childhood agencies, and families to identify these children.

Who qualifies for the child count?
The child does not have to be completely deaf and completely blind; in fact the majority of children identified, birth through 21, have some degree of functional vision and hearing. It does not matter if the child is classified by the school district under another category such as multiply impaired, as long as they meet the requirement of having vision and hearing loss in addition to their other disabilities. Children who have cortical vision and /or hearing impairment should also be included in the child count.

Is Early Intervention (Birth to 3) Included?
In addition all infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who have vision and hearing loss need to be identified and represented on the child count. This includes all “children who are experiencing developmental delays in vision and hearing, have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delays in hearing and vision, or who is at risk of having substantial developmental delays in hearing and vision if early intervention services are not provided.”

What is the Federal Definition of Deaf-Blindness?
“…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 impairment, or severe disabilities, to address their educational needs due to these concurrent disabilities.”

How is the information reported?
Once the Project has compiled the information requested on each child, it is then sent to The National Technical Assistance Consortium who compiles it by state, for the US Department of Education. The report is kept confidential and no personally identifiable information is sent, such as the child’s name, address, etc.

How is the information used?
The information is used to track and monitor the incidence of Deaf-Blindness across the country, as well as in each state. The information provided also helps each state plan for appropriate training and technical assistance activities to meet the needs of the children and youth, families, service providers, and educators within each state. Once a child is identified, the Pennsylvania Deaf-Blind Initiative can then initiate and respond to any requests for technical assistance and training on behalf of that child.

Where do I get more information?
Please contact Sue Ann Houser at or you may locate more information on Deaf-Blindness and Pennsylvania specific child count data at the National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness website:

Overview of Deaf-Blind Census and Online submission of Data

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