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2019 National Deaf-Blind Child Count Report

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.