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2015 National Deaf-Blind Child Count Report

National Child Count

Greetings! We have just posted The 2015 National Deaf-Blind Child Count report,

This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the National Child Count of Children and Youth who are Deaf-Blind and we are doing something new with the report. In addition to our traditional report that you can download as a PDF ( we have also created a new web-based format. This new presentation provides better accessibility and provides an opportunity to organize the results in new and better ways. We have added explanatory narrative around the data that we hope you will find useful as well.

As in past years, the report includes a narrative section that summarizes trends in the data over the past several years and identifies implications from a national perspective. In addition to the narrative there are detailed tables that display the results of the 2015 count of deaf-blind children on a state by state basis.

We have also updated the child count mapping application to include the 2015 data. The mapping tool now contains data from 2008 through 2015.

Selected Results
The overall December 1 “Snap Shot” count for 2015 increased to 9,574; an increase of 190 from 2014. Overall, the total number of children and youth served during the year also increased from 10,471 to 10,671.

While 1,130 children and youth exited from the counts of the state and multi-state projects, a total of 1,335 were added through child find and referral efforts. Newly identified children and youth spanned the age range from birth through 21. Nearly half (47.9%) were birth through 5 years of age. In other ways, these newly identified individuals mirror the overall population.
The distribution of children and youth across age groups has remained relatively stable over the past five years, with a slight shift toward a younger overall population. There has been a slight overall decrease in the percentage of the total count represented by infants, birth to 2 years of age (6.2% - 6.0%). Early identification and referral to the deaf-blind programs continues to be an issue with less than 100 infants, birth to one year of age being included on the National Deaf-Blind Child Count.

The prevalence of CHARGE Syndrome continues to increase. In 2015, there were 926 children and youth identified as having CHARGE Syndrome. While still relatively rare, the prevalence of children with Stickler Syndrome and Dandy Walker Syndrome has also continued to increase.

The percentage of young children ages 3-5 educated in a regular early childhood education setting some portion of the day has more than doubled in the past decade from less than 15% to 34%. Over 61% of the children and youth in school age special education are being served at least a portion of their day in a regular classroom in their local school. This is consistent across the age span.

Nearly one quarter (23.1%) of the children and youth on the 2015 National Deaf-Blind Child Count participate in the regular curriculum as indicated by participating in statewide assessments tied to regular grade level standards. This is down slightly from 2014. This percentage increases to 41.5% when only those children and youth are considered who are at the age and/or grade level for which state assessments are administered.

Data on children and youth receiving intervener services was collected on a pilot basis during the 2014 deaf-blind child count, with some state deaf-blind projects collecting the information. A total of 394 children and youth were reported as receiving intervener services on the 2014 National Deaf-Blind Child Count. The category was fully implemented in 2015, and 587 children and youth were reported as receiving intervener services on the 2015 National Deaf-Blind Child Count.

The number of youth graduating from high school with a regular diploma has more than doubled (from 94 to 220) in the past six years.

Some Implications
The continued trend toward educational placement in inclusive settings, especially at the pre-school level, is significant and positive for children and families. The trend does, however, have profound implications on the needs for information, resources, and access to expertise in deaf-blindness being available at a local level. Concurrently, as schools and Part C agencies continue to appropriately place and serve children locally, there are increased needs for more personnel with a knowledge of deaf-blind intervention and instruction, individualized supports, including the provision of intervener services.

The apparent continued under-identification of very young infants and children and their referral to deaf-blind programs remains an important need. Infants and toddlers greatly benefit from having access to expertise in deaf-blindness in order to develop and implement appropriate services that address the impacts of dual sensory impairments. Further, parents and families of these infants and toddlers can benefit from supports and networks established within states. Without such early identification and referral to state deaf-blind programs, access to needed services and supports is compromised.

Trends demonstrate that what has historically been one of the lowest incidence, yet diverse populations, continues to become even more so. As our nation’s population becomes more diverse ethnically, racially, culturally and even linguistically, our national, state and local systems need to continue to adapt to provide needed services effectively to these children and youth and their families.

There is a continued trend in the identification of children and youth who are deaf-blind and living at home with their parents, extended family or foster parents. Currently, 93.6% are living at home in their local communities. In contrast, only 1.8% are identified as living in a private residential facility (the next most common setting). Given that almost all children and youth who are deaf-blind live in a home setting, providing supports to families (nuclear, extended, and foster), is critical. Supports that include access to parent networks and providing leadership/self-advocacy skills training continues to be critical components in the umbrella of services needed for children who are deaf-blind and their families.

The numbers of students on the National Deaf-Blind Child Count report who are exiting Part B every year, either having received a diploma or certificate, simply aging out, or transitioning to adult services, post-secondary education, or employment has important implications for the continued development of effective post-secondary supports for this population. This is especially the case for the growing numbers of young adults receiving a certificate of completion or diploma, which has grown from 160 to 281 over the past 8 years.

The numbers of children and youth with cochlear implants has grown dramatically over the past five years. This increase, spanning the age ranges from infants to young adults, may require significant program development within the Deaf-Blind TA Network to provide appropriate supports for this growing population.

If you have any questions about the 2015 report, or previous reports or trends please feel free to contact me at (503-838-8777)

Also, please feel free to contact me for any specific analyses you would like run using the 2015 data, or longitudinal analyses over the past 8-10 years. We hope you enjoy the new format!

Mark Schalock

Posted Oct 6, 2016 by Mark Schalock

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