For most children, communication development and learning occur through vision and hearing. Because deaf-blindness limits access to auditory and visual information, children who are deaf-blind require educational services individualized to their own learning styles and abilities. Most also have one or more additional disabilities or medical conditions, further intensifying educational support needs.
In recognition of the complexity of the disability, the U.S. Congress has authorized programs for children who are deaf-blind as part of education legislation since the late 1960s. NCDB and state deaf-blind projects are the most current programs—funded under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
NCDB and the state deaf-blind projects exist to help increase the knowledge and skills of educators and families who work with children who are deaf-blind and create sustainable services through systems change.
Most of NCDB’s services are aligned with five national initiatives designed to address key needs of children with deaf-blindness, their families, and service providers.
NCDB's technical assistance (TA) refers to a variety of activities, such as information, training, consultation, and coaching designed to support state deaf-blind projects as they work with practitioners, agencies, and families to address the intense educational needs of children who are deaf-blind. Read more about NCDB's services to state deaf-blind projects →
NCDB also provides TA to some additional entities, including national family organizations.
Our information services involve both information dissemination and product development to serve two key purposes:
- Resources and tools that support state deaf-blind project activities
- Information about deaf-blindness and high-quality instructional practices for families and practitioners
These are made available via this website and through library services provided in collaboration with Perkins School for the Blind. Go to the Info Center →
National Child Count
NCDB compiles data about children with deaf-blindness collected by state deaf-blind projects and publishes an annual report. The report provides valuable information to inform the design and delivery of TA, research needs, and personnel training. Access the National Child Count →
Early Identification and Intervention Initiative
This initiative provides assistance and tools that help state deaf-blind projects strengthen the ability of early intervention systems to identify, refer, and work with infants and toddlers who are deaf-blind.
Interveners and Qualified Personnel
Activities in this initiative are designed to build the knowledge and skills of educators serving children who are deaf-blind through expansion of personnel development opportunities and adoption of interveners and teachers of the deaf-blind.
This initiative supports state deaf-blind projects and national family organizations in their provision of services that help families acquire the knowledge and skills required to effectively partner with service providers and advocate for their children's needs.
The Transition Initiative supports state deaf-blind projects in improving services and outcomes for youth who are deaf-blind and strengthens partnerships between the projects and national agencies, including the Helen Keller National Center.
Assessment, Planning, and Instruction
This initiative is developing practice guides that outline the essential components of educational practices for children with deaf-blindness and other resources to assist practitioners in increasing communication competence and access to the general education curriculum.