Overview of Deafblindness and Implications

Did you know that 80–95% of information comes to us through our vision and hearing? Students who have a hearing or vision losses cannot access the same amount or quality of information without accommodation for their sensory losses. This assessment must always be understood and addressed before any thoughts or processing or products (such as an IQ score) can be discussed. Think about this:

  • A child who is deaf or hard of hearing learns through vision.
  • A child who is blind or visually impaired learns through hearing.
  • A child who is DeafBlind learns through touch supplementing whatever vision and hearing is left. She/he may not have enough vision or hearing to learn the way children learn in programs for the deaf/hard of hearing or for the blind/visually impaired. This is also true for other special and general education placements.
  • An educational program that takes into consideration the unique learning needs of each child will have to be specifically designed for him/her, with particular attention to the input of information, communication skills and consistent access to communication.

The term DeafBlind stated in the IDEA refers to a continuum from hard of hearing to complete deafness and visually impaired to totally blind. Very few people are completely deaf and completely blind. Many students with deafblindness have additional disabilities. To qualify there must be verification that the student meets criteria for visual impairment and deaf/hard of hearing.


Staff are available for inservices or to share resources. To request assistance or any of the following resources, contact Laurie or Kristi.

Ann L. Mayes, Education Specialist
Deanna Rothbauer, Project Coordinator & Family Specialist
Jackie Bauer, Family Engagement Coordinator

Related Links:

A-Z to Deafblindness
Blindness Resource Center: DeafBlind resources
CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, Inc.
Helen Keller National Center
MN DeafBlind Technical Assistance Project
The National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind


Kristi Portugue, 507-389-5086
Laurie Palesotti, 507-934-5420, Ext. 1251
Erin Toninato, 507-389-1914