2023 Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Conference

March 5-7, 2023 • Cincinnati, OH


3/14/2022  |   1:15 PM - 1:45 PM   |  Using the Deaf-Blind Child Count to Improve Identification   |  Room 12

Using the Deaf-Blind Child Count to Improve Identification

Children birth - 21 who are deaf-blind have unique needs that require specific interventions to create access and build foundational skills to achieve developmental outcomes and successful engagement in instruction. A large number of those who are deaf-blind are not identified as such and therefore do not have access to appropriate interventions and opportunities. NCDB is using the National Deaf-Blind Child Count and other information to draw attention to under identification through a range of efforts such as analyzing and using data to highlight disparities and needs, building collaborative relationships to improve identification, and producing information to raise awareness. Deaf-blindness (combined vision and hearing impairment) has a profound impact on a child’s ability to access and develop communication, language, and concepts. It can also impede their ability to develop and maintain relationships with family, peers, and others in their lives. Proper identification is a critical first step in supporting infants and toddlers with the proper interventions and supports to meet their developmental needs. Compounding the already complex issues of identification is that approximately 87% of children and youth who are deaf-blind have additional and multiple disabilities. Limited research and a range of anecdotal information from professionals in the field suggests the prevalence of vision and hearing impairments in the population of individuals with multiple disabilities is significantly higher than currently reported. Research into rates in subset population of individuals with multiple disabilities and comparison to known populations also support this notion. Lastly, children who are deaf-blind from culturally diverse backgrounds are undercounted to an even greater extent than those in the majority population. These data combined illustrate that there are potentially a significant number of individuals not receiving appropriate supports and services necessary to fully access and participate in home, school, and community settings.

  • Participants will identify collaborative relationships that can be used to improve identification for children who are deaf-blind.
  • Participants will learn about new data sources that would be helpful to improve identification.
  • Participants will learn how this data is being used to drive improvements in identification of children who are deaf-blind.


Handout is not Available

CART transcripts are NOT YET available, but will be posted shortly after the conference


Emma Nelson (InPerson), Helen Keller National Center, emma.nelson@hknc.org;
Emma Nelson, MS Ed is the Initiative Lead for Early Identification and Referral at the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB). She is certified as an early childhood special educator and has taught infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with complex needs including deaf-blindness in classrooms, community, and home-based settings. Before coming to NCDB, she served as Project Director for Vermont’s Federal Deaf-Blind Project. Emma is trained in Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) and endorsed in the CVI Range and earned my Master's degree at Hunter College in Early Childhood Special Education with a concentration in severe and multiple disabilities and deaf-blindness.


Financial -
No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial -
No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.