Documented Hearing and Vision Loss
The range and types of hearing and vision loss provide evidence of the heterogeneous nature of the population of children with deaf-blindness. Only about 1% have both profound hearing loss and total blindness. The other 99% have some residual hearing or vision.
Just under 80% (8,453) of children were identified as having low vision, being legally blind, or having a documented functional vision loss in 2019. An additional 4.4% were totally blind. These distributions have fluctuated by only 1% over the past five years.
The percentage with low vision increased from 31.4% in 2015 to 33.4% in 2019. Documented functional vision loss increased from 21.8% to 23.4%. Legally blind decreased from 25.6% to 22.6%. The number of children with cortical visual impairment increased from 2,844 in 2015 to 3,082 in 2019, which is 29% of the total population.
Profound hearing loss is the most common primary classification of hearing impairment reported, occurring in 20.2% of children. Moderate hearing loss accounts for 18.5%, moderately severe for 15.3%, mild for 13.3%, and severe for 10.2%. Another 13.1% have a documented functional hearing loss. The percentage identified as needing further hearing testing was 7.6%. These distributions have remained stable over the past five years, fluctuating only 1-2%.
Relatively few children were identified as having central auditory processing disorder (493) or auditory neuropathy (577) in 2019. In both cases, these numbers represent less than 6% of the population.
There has been a significant increase over the past five years in the percentage of children with corrective lenses (40.3% to 45.3%) and assistive listening devices (47.4% to 50.8%). The number of children of all ages (infants to young adults) identified as having cochlear implants increased from 1,085 (10.5%) in 2015 to 1,283 (12.0%) in 2019.
Over the past five years, the percentage of children that use assistive technology has remained constant at about 44%. Of these, 51% with four or more additional disabilities use assistive technology, while only 32% with no additional disabilities use assistive technology.