NCDB 2021 Impact Report
The National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) partners with 48 state/multi-state deaf-blind projects and a network of national organizations to improve services and systems for children and young adults who are deaf-blind in the U.S. and its territories. Each year, we ask for input on our work and use the feedback to create positive change in the years that follow.
In 2021, collaborative efforts led to significant progress and accomplishments that we’d like to share with our partners, families, and others with an interest in improving the lives of children and youth who are deaf-blind.
A major focus of NCDB’s work is to provide technical assistance (TA) in the form of high-quality information and support to SDBPs across four initiatives: (1) Family Engagement, (2) Identification and Referral, (3) Interveners and Qualified Personnel, and (4) Transition. To evaluate these efforts, we used a variety of methods, including surveys, interviews, fidelity checks, and focus groups. Collectively, the findings help us build on our strengths, address concerns, and inform and guide future activities that better promote the use of best practices for serving children and young adults who are deaf-blind.
The following methods were used to collect evaluation data during 2021.
The Annual Survey: This survey of state deaf-blind project staff and national partners who receive intensive TA from NCDB was conducted in April by an independent program evaluator.
State Deaf-Blind Project Interviews: To gather more information about NCDB TA and program effectiveness, interviews were conducted with 12 state deaf-blind projects in April by an independent program evaluator.
Key Findings: 2021 Annual Survey
Nearly all respondents
- Accessed the NCDB website and agreed with statements that resources were well-organized, aligned with policy/professional practice, addressed their needs, were useful, and increased their knowledge
- Interacted with NCDB staff, primarily through NCDB webinars or conferences, online training, consultations, and peer learning communities. Several respondents commented about the knowledgeable, responsive, and timely staff
About half of the state deaf-blind project respondents used the Literacy for Children Who Are Deaf-Blind: Building a Foundation module.
About half of the state deaf-blind project respondents used the READY Tool: Readiness Evaluation of Transition to Adulthood for Deaf-Blind Youth.
Only a few respondents provided recommendations. These included continuing to offer virtual meetings for Deaf-Blind Summit and creating more resources in Spanish.2021 NCDB Report: Annual Survey FindingsPDF Document|449.4 KB
Key Findings: 2021 SDBP Interviews
All of the 12 state deaf-blind projects interviewed noted that the work done by NCDB provided responsive, helpful services and high-quality, informative products.
The interviews with the state deaf-blind project staff clearly revealed the challenges they face:
- State deaf-blind projects have extensive job responsibilities and limited supports
- Barriers related to geography (e.g., distance, rural isolation, limited internet) and population (e.g., size, diversity, language, literacy, poverty)
- Limited public and school awareness of and interest in deaf-blindness
- Limited resources and linkages to systems (e.g., Part C, K-12, and transition planning and supports)
Suggestions for NCDB to help state deaf-blind projects meet the challenges they face included
- Provide more opportunities for state deaf-blind project to learn about practices in other states
- Provide more orientation, training, outreach, and mentorship to new state deaf-blind project staff
The accomplishments in 2021 built upon the products and technical assistance delivered in previous years to intensify collaborations with national partners and support to state deaf-blind projects to achieve longer term targeted outcomes. The products and services took into consideration the suggestions and needs expressed by survey and interview participants, for example support offered to new state deaf-blind project staff was increased. Select a topic below to learn about specific accomplishments in that area.
Information Services and Technology
The products developed and updated are used to provide resources as well as guide the delivery of technical assistance by state deaf-blind projects at child, family, and system levels. Dissemination of new products was carefully planned to ensure that each of our national partners and state deaf-blind projects received the most relevant products for their audiences. The following are new and updated products released in 2021.
New Key Topics for Families
- Telling Your Child’s Story
- Preparing for Transition to Preschool
- Understanding Assistive Technology
- Learn About the Hands & Voices Organization
New Practice Guides
Updated Info Topics
- Transitioning from Early Intervention to Preschool
- Assistive Technology
- Professional Development Opportunities page
Early Identification and Referral document added to the "Exploration and Building Partnerships" section of Changing Systems: Moving Beyond Child-Specific Technical Assistance
New Article: Breaking Down Barriers to a Meaningful Adult Life
Work with State Deaf-Blind Projects
Many technical assistance achievements during 2021 built upon the shared work of peer learning communities (PLCs) that involved state deaf-blind projects, national partners, and NCDB initiative leads. In 2021 the PLC work grew in multiple ways:
- Compared to 2020, there was a 59% increase in state engagement in PLC meetings
- The number of state deaf-blind projects that actively participated in at least one PLC increased from 36 to 39
- Intensive TA plans were developed with 13 states to support implementation of what was learned in PLCs related to improving transition outcomes, cultural competency, and Charting the Life Course
- NCDB engaged in a visioning process with the Family Engagement Coordinator Peer Learning Community to inform the supports and technical assistance that will be provided to families in the future
Work with National Partners
- NFADB, CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation, the Usher Coalition, Global Foundation for Peroxisomal Disorders, and Ava’s Voice collaborated in prioritizing the needs of families identified in the visioning process
- Collaboration between the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) and Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (ATLAS) resulted in publication of the report, Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities and Dual Sensory Loss, based on an analysis of information from The National Child Count of Children and Youth Who Are Deaf-Blind and the First Contact Survey of the Dynamic Learning Maps® alternate assessments in 17 states.
- The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA), Infant Toddler Coordinator Association (ITCA), and the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy), and NCDB deepened their level of collaboration this year to increase awareness by:
- Co-presenting a webinar hosted on the ECTA platform and linked to from each of their respective websites
- Co-presenting at the OSEP Project Directors and Leadership Conference on using the National Deaf-Blind Child Count to improve identification
Over the next year, NCDB staff are looking forward to addressing additional evaluation findings and building on our achievements to date. Future activities include the following:
- Focus on priorities from the family engagement priorities report to increase supports to families through the Deaf-Blind TA Network and connections with national partners
- Raising awareness beyond the Deaf-Blind TA Network of risk factors for deaf-blindness and the crucial need for timely identification and referral to state deaf-blind projects
- Expand professional development options to train teachers and related service providers in deaf-blindness through the release of new online modules
- Continued collaboration with ATLAS on Dynamic Learning Maps and training materials to support access to the general education curriculum
- Increasing the knowledge of state deaf-blind project personnel, families, and educators about precursor skills that connect to grade level alternate standards and early communication