Assessment Practices for Children Who Are Deaf-Blind - Evidence Base Bibliography

by DB-LINK on Aug 30, 2013
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This is a partial list of materials on this topic available from the NCDB Catalog database. If you have questions you may contact us at the following email:

Updated 3/2015


Assessing Students with Special Needs --Venn, John J. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall. (2007) This book addresses how teachers can use assessment to inform instruction and how they can incorporate it into the curriculum. Coverage includes all of the core information expected of an assessment text, but goes far beyond the basics by addressing multicultural considerations, technology, high-stakes testing, and the reauthorization of IDEA.


Authentic Practices for Assessing Skills of Young Children With Sensory Impairments and Multiple Disabilities --Chen, Deborah; Rowland, Charity; Stillman, Robert; Mar, Harvey. EARLY CHILDHOOD SERVICES, vol. 3, #4, pp. 323-338. (2009) The article reports the results of a qualitative study of assessment practices for children who are deaf-blind. It involved in-depth interviews with 14 professionals representing different disciplines in one state and a focused interview with a group of 10 experts from 10 different state deaf-blind technical assistance (TA) projects. In addition, family perspectives were collected via e-mailed responses to two questions by 12 family specialists from state deaf-blind TA projects and survey responses from 62 parents of children who are deaf-blind. The data indicate similar concerns about challenges assessing young children with sensory impairments and multiple disabilities--in particular, a lack of appropriate assessment instruments and frequent use of traditional and standardized procedures that result in faulty or inadequate information about a child. The article concludes by providing specific considerations and suggestions for conducting authentic assessments in this population of children.


Autism Spectrum Conditions in Individuals with Möbius Sequence, CHARGE syndrome, and Oculo-Auriculo-Vertebral Spectrum : Diagnostic Aspects --Johansson, Maria; Gillberg, Christopher; Rastam, Maria. RESEARCH IN DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, vol. 31, pp. 9-24. (2010) This study analyzed the applicability of current autism diagnostic instruments in individuals with multiple disabilities.  The diagnostic instruments analyzed included the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADIR), the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and the Autistic Behaviour Checklist (ABC).  The participants included 25 individuals with Möbius sequence, 31 with CHARGE Syndrome (3 deaf-blind), and 20 with oculo-auriculo-vertebral spectrum (1 deaf-blind). Autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) were diagnosed in 45%, 68%, and 42% of the individuals in each group, respectively. Diagnostic difficulties due to additional disabilities such as mental retardation (MR), impaired vision, impaired hearing, and cranial nerve dysfunction were experienced in all three groups.  The authors conclude that an extensive battery of diagnostic instruments, including observational schedules and parent interviews, and, if possible, independent judgments from two clinicians, is essential in the diagnosis of ASCs in these individuals and that the applicability of current autism diagnostic instruments in individuals who are deaf-blind is highly questionable. They also note that symptoms caused by disabilities other than ASCs (e.g., sensory deprivation) but that resemble ASC symptoms, may be misinterpreted as symptoms of ASCs and vice versa.


Child-Guided Strategies : The van Dijk Approach to Assessment --Nelson, Catherine; van Dijk, Jan; Oster, Teresa; McDonnell, Andrea. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (2009) This guidebook describes the assessment of children who are deaf-blind using an approach developed by Dr. Jan van Dijk. Assessment techniques and general intervention strategies are provided for the following eight characteristics: behavioral state (state of arousal or alertness), orienting response (direction of attention to a stimulus), learning channels (sensory avenues children use to take in information), approach-withdrawal (what a child likes and dislikes), memory (processes that involve habituation, anticipation, and routine learning), social interactions, communication, and problem-solving. Videoclips of two children (ages 7 and 25 months) demonstrating the concepts described in the book are provided on a DVD. The book also describes how to write a summary of assessment findings and includes a sample assessment of an 18-year-old with multiple disabilities. Appendices contain parent interview questions, observation worksheets, and an assessment summary form.  The forms are also provided on a CD. Publisher's web site:


Children with Sensory Impairments --Silberman, Rosanne K.; Bruce. Susan M.; Nelson, Catherine. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Educating Children with Multiple Disabilities: A Collaborative Approach, F.P. Orelove,  D. Sobsey and R. K. Silberman. (2004) Chapter 10  provides content on definitions, prevalence, etiologies, and the impact of vision and hearing loss on development and learning. Unique characteristics of students with sensory impairments and multiple disabilities, along with specific adaptations, accommodations, and instructional strategies are provided. This book is a widely used textbook for undergraduate and graduate education in special education and related fields. It is also useful for practicing special and general educators.  It emphasizes research-based guidance. Publisher's web site:


Cognitive --Salem-Hartshorne, Nancy. San Diego: Plural Publishing, Inc. CHARGE Syndrome, T.S. Hartshorne, M. A.Hefner, S.L.H.Davenport, J.W..Thelin (Eds.) (2011) Chapter 20 of this book addresses the difficulties in determing cognitive abilities, IQ, intelligence for the CHARGE syndrome population. Many factors contribute to this difficulty, especiallly the combination of sensory deficits and early severe medical complications. Discussed are the range of cognitive abilities in individuals with CHARGE, possible prognostic factors, challenges in assessment, some conclusions and recommendations. Publisher's web site:


Competencies for Teachers of Learners who are Deafblind --McLetchie, Barbara, A. B.; Riggio, Marianne. --Perkins National Deaf-Blind Training Project. Watertown, MA: Perkins National Deaf-Blind Training Project. (1997) Teachers of deafblind learners, in this case infants, children, and youth, must have specialized competencies in order to meet the complex and unique needs of their students.  Areas of knowledge delineated here are the outcome of a collaborative process involving university faculty and state deaf-blind project directors and are intended as a blueprint for personnel preparation programs in deafblindness.  Areas of competencies discussed: general knowledge about deafblindness; personal identity, relationships and self esteem; concept development; communication; hearing-vision; orientation and mobility; environment and materials; and professional issues. May be purchased for $5 from: Public Relations and Publications Department, Perkins School for the Blind, 175 N. Beacon St., Watertown MA  02472.  Phone: 617-972-7328.  Fax: 617-972-7334. Available in Spanish from DB-LINK. Publisher's web site:


Deafblind and Neglected or Deafblindness Neglected? : Revisiting the Case of Beverley Lewis --Simcock, Peter; Manthorpe, Jill. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, May 14, 2013, pp. 1-17. (2013) Deafblindness is a particularly complex impairment and deafblind people are considered to be some of the most vulnerable members of society; this includes vulnerability to abuse and harm. This paper explores this unique impairment in the illustrative case of Beverley Lewis, by reviewing archived published and audio material about the life and circumstances of the death of this young woman, including media reports, parliamentary debates and commentaries. Whilst it appears that the implications of Beverley's deafblindness may have been ‘overshadowed’ in media reports and inquiries, the paper suggests that further lessons for practice can be learned from the case by focusing on this condition. Drawing on contemporary research by specialist charitable organisations (Sense and Deafblind UK), the authors identify research highlighting deficiencies in support for many deafblind adults, which have implications for safeguarding policy and practice. It is concluded that attention is needed in three areas: increased awareness amongst social care and health practitioners of the particular vulnerability to abuse of deafblind adults; improved access to specialist assessment and specialist social care support, including one-to-one human support; and improved communication between social care and health agencies, alongside more tangible signs of acceptance of shared responsibility for supporting deafblind adults.


Developing Educational Plans to Support Valued Lifestyles --Romer, Lyle T.; Romer, Mary A. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Welcoming Students Who Are Deaf-Blind into Typical Classrooms - Facilitating School Participation, Learning, and Friendships. Norris G. Haring and Lyle T. Romer (Eds.). (1995) Chapter 6 presents a plan for integrating deaf-blind young people into the general community.  Ways to support people with disabilities that recognize the value of forming partnerships among those receiving services, their families, their friends, and other members of their communities are suggested. Such partnerships are to be based on an equality that no longer requires people to give over their own dreams and visions in exchange for professional expertise.  Rather the professionals should provide assistance in achieving what the individual sets as personal goals with the help of his/her family and friends.


Developing Leisure and Recreation Opportunities --McNulty, Kathy; Mascia, John; Rocchio, Laura; Rothstein, Rustie. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Supporting Young Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind in Their Communities. Jane M. Everson (Ed.) (1995) Chapter 8 provides guidelines for assessment, activity selection, and provision of instruction, as well as support strategies to enable young adults to participate in a variety of leisure time and recreational activities.  Case studies are included.


Early intervention for infants with deaf-blindness --Michael, Martha G.; Paul, Peter V. Columbus Ohio: Ohio State University Department of Educational Services and Research. (1988) Few individuals labeled deaf-blind are totally deaf and blind. Those infants who have residual sight and hearing can benefit from early sensory training. This article describes visual and hearing assessment and training methods.  ERIC Number ED 302 986


Educational Programming for Multihandicapped Deaf-Blind Children --Mira, Mary; Hoffman, Sandra. EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN, vol. 40, #7, pp. 513-514. This article describes some problems encountered with school age deaf-blind children who received their first consistent training after the inception of federally stimulated programs in 1970.  These children, typically multihandicapped, had had fragmented services prior to that time. The results are based on repeated evaluations of 35 children plus continuous observation of several children in an educational program.  Similar problems have been described with younger deaf-blind children.


Environments That Encourage Communication --Crook, Carol; Miles, Barbara. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind. Remarkable Conversations: A Guide to Developing Meaningful Communication with Children and Young Adults Who Are Deafblind. Barbara Miles & Marianne Riggio (Eds.), pp. 76-93. (1999) This chapter includes information about the following characteristics of environments that encourage communication: respectful, responsive, mutually interactive, provide opportunities for choice-making, compensate for sensory losses by adapting physical and social circumstances (includes specifics about visual, auditory, and tactual modifications), provide opportunities for generalizing communication across settings, encourage a variety of communicative functions, provide a balance of structure and spontaneity, recognize the importance of mutual enjoyment.


Framework for Understanding Young Children With Severe Multiple Disabilities : The van Dijk Approach to Assessment --Nelson, Catherine; van Dijk, Jan; McDonnell, Andrea P.; Thompson, Kristina. TASH. RESEARCH & PRACTICE FOR PERSONS WITH SEVERE DISABILITIES, vol. 27, #2, 2002, pp. 97-111. (2002) This article describes a framework for assessing young children with severe multiple disabilities that was developed by Dr. Jan van Dijk and colleagues in the Netherlands.  The assessment is guided by the lead of the child as it looks at the underlying processes of learning including biobehavioral state, orienting response, learning channels, approach-withdrawal, memory, interactions, communication, and problem solving.  Through the use of two case studies, each of the learning processes is described along with suggestions for assessment and intervention.  A sample protocol with observations, child strengths and needs, and suggestions for intervention is included.


Functional Communication in Inclusive Settings for Students Who Are Deaf-Blind --Stremel, Kathleen; Schutz, Richard. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Welcoming Students Who Are Deaf-Blind into Typical Classrooms - Facilitating School Participation, Learning, and Friendships. Norris G. Haring and Lyle T. Romer (Eds.). (1995) Chapter 10 provides some perspectives on and strategies for considering factors of an individual's social and physical environments to achieve a shared communication system.  This chapter also emphasizes a person-centered approach to the development and implementation of a functional communication system for students who are deaf-blind.


Holistic Assessment --Eyre, Jane T. London: David Fulton Publishers. Teaching Children Who Are Deafblind: Contact, Communication, and Learning. S. Aitken, M. Buultjens, C. Clark, J. T., Eyre, & L. Pease (Eds.) (2000) This easy-to-read book chapter describes a positive approach to the educational assessment of deaf-blind learners that emphasizes identifying strengths and abilities that form the building blocks of skill development and learning. In addition to providing specific details about how to conduct an assessment, it covers the philosophy of why a comprehensive, holistic approach is essential when assessing children who are deaf-blind.


Inquiry into the Adequacy of Services to Meet the Developmental Needs of Western Australia's Children --Community Development and Justice Standing Committee, Report 1. Perth: Legislative Assembly, Parliament of Western Australia. (2009) In Western Australia, the Hon. Alannah MacTiernan expressed her concern to Parliament in November 2008 about the long term consequences of failing to respond to the needs of parents and their children in the early years.  The Community Development and Justice Standing Committee of the 38th Parliament subsequently initiated this Inquiry to determine the adequacy of existing services in Western Australia in meeting the developmental needs of children.  The Inquiry focuses on the adequacy of the Western Australia State Government services in providing support to their families and carers and meeting the social and cognitive needs of children in Western Australia.  The assessment of 'adequacy" has been made in relation to: accessibility of services; quality of services; effectiveness of services; and the application of constrained resources.  In so doing the Inquiry considered aspects of health, care and early development as well as the needs of supporting families and carers.  The Committee made Findings and Recommendations in relation to the above based upon the research, briefings and evidence received by way of submissions and hearings. Available on the web:$file/Final+Report+WAC+August+2009.pdf.


Issues in the Evaluation of Infants and Young Children Who Are Suspected of or Who Are Deaf-Blind --Holte, Lenore; Prickett, Jeanne Glidden; Van Dyke, Don C.; Olson, Richard J.; Lubrica, Pena; Knutson, Claudia L.; Knutson, John F.; Brennan, Susan. INFANTS AND YOUNG CHILDREN, vol. 19, #3, pp. 213-227. (2006) This article provides an overview of the following topics: the effects of deaf-blindness on development, causes of deaf-blindness, and early screening and assessment strategies.  It addresses hearing and vision evaluation, developmental and cognitive assessment, educational and communication assessment, and genetic evaluation.


Issues in the Management of Infants and Young Children Who Are Deaf-Blind --Holte, Lenore; Prickett, Jeanne Glidden; Van Dyke, Don C.; Olson, Richard J.; Lubrica, Pena; Knutson, Claudia L.; Knutson, John F.; Brennan, Susan; Berg, Wendy. INFANTS AND YOUNG CHILDREN, vol. 19, #4, pp. 323-337. (2006) Young children with major auditory and visual impairments are identified as "deaf-blind." They have unique communication, developmental, emotional, and educational needs that require special knowledge, expertise, technology, and assistance. Having a child with this dual sensory impairment can create emotional and financial stress on a family. Programs that provide consultative training and technical assistance for families, education, and service providers are key in meeting the needs of such children and their families. Behavior concerns, circadian rhythm disturbances, amplification, and special education needs all require expert and prompt attention. New research is adding to our knowledge of cochlear implants, cortical stimulators, and augmentative communication, which have the potential to improve the quality of life for the child who is deaf-blind. This article is intended to introduce professionals from a variety of disciplines to current practices and important considerations in intervention with infants and young children who are deaf-blind. It also includes discussion of the crucial role of family support in optimizing outcomes for these children. A companion article on evaluation of infants and young children who are suspected of or who are determined to be deaf-blind previously appeared in Infants & Young Children, vol. 19, #3. (Author Abstract)


Learning Media Assessment of Students with Visual Impairments : Resource Guide for Teachers --Koenig, Alan J., Ed.D.; Holbrook, M. Cay, Ph.D. Austin, TX: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) (1995) This resource guide contains six chapters that outline the essential elements of learning medial assessment. Topics discussed include: an overview of the learning media process, procedures for documenting student's use of sensory channels and translating this information to appropriate general learning media; processes for continuous assessment of student's literacy media; and selecting functional learning and literacy media for students with additional disabilities. Includes guidelines and checklists to aid in assessment procedures and 11 types of blank assessment forms with suggested purposes and procedures for use.


Lessons from Project PLAI in California and Utah : Implications for Early Intervention Services to Infants Who Are Deaf-Blind and Their Families --Chen, Deborah, Ph.D.; Alsop, Linda, M.Ed.; Minor, Lavada, M.A. Monmouth, OR: DEAF-BLIND PERSPECTIVES, vol. 7, #3, Spring 2000, pp. 1-5. (2000) This article reviews Project PLAI (promoting learning through active interaction) which developed an early communication curriculum and accompanying videotape for pre-school children who are deafblind.  The curriculum consists of five modules with strategies for recognizing communication behaviors, responding to them, and supporting the development of communication.  The article reviews the study, its participants, training, and challenges presented in the early intervention process. Available on the web:


Neurobiological Development and Cognition in the Deafbliind --Geenens, D.L. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. A Guide to Planning and Support for Individuals Who Are Deafblind, J. M.McInnes (Ed.) (1999) Chapter 5 addresses neurobiological development and cognition in the deafblind. Sections covered include an introduction describing children who are deafblind and why cognitive development is difficult to assess; development of intelligence and current theories in cognitive development;  neurobiological correlates to cognitive delelopment, sensory deprivation and brain development; psychological testing and deafblindness; current assessment tools for the deafblind; patterns of cognitive development in the deafblind; role of the intervenor, and concludes with a few case studies. Available from: University of Toronto Press, Inc., (800) 565-9523, (416) 667-7832 (fax), 5201 Dufferin Street, North York, Ontario.  Email: Publisher's web site:


No Teacher Left Behind : Training Teachers to Meet the Challenge of Accessing the General Curriculum for Deafblind Students --Byrnes, MaryAnn; Majors, Martha. Monmouth, OR: DEAF-BLIND PERSPECTIVES, vol. 11, #3, Spring 2004, pp. 1-5. (2004) This article describes training of teachers in Massachusetts in accordance with IDEA and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.  It discusses the changes in Special Education from the initiatives as well as from the Massachusetts Educational Reform Act (MERA).  It also includes a description of a six module, 12 credit graduate program for training teachers at Perkins School for the Blind, and outcomes of the training. Available on the web:


Reliability and Fidelity of the van Dijk Assessment --Nelson, Catherine; Janssen, Marleen; Oster, Teresa; Jayaraman, Gayatri. AER JOURNAL: RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN VISUAL IMPAIRMENT AND BLINDNESS, Summer 2010, vol. 3, #3, pp. 71-80. (2010) The van Dijk Framework for Assessment of Children and Youth with Multiple Disabilities and Deaf-Blindness provides a child-guided approach to assessment that examines the processes children use as they learn and internalize information. However, the fluid nature of the child-guided assessment creates challenges for determining interrater reliability. This study examined specific quality indicators for successful implementation of the model, the ability of practitioners to implement the assessment with fidelity, and the ability of multiple examiners to look at the same child assessment and reliably come to similar conclusions. Nine educators with responsibilities to conduct assessments of individuals with deaf-blindness each used the assessment with two children or youth (between the ages of 2 and 21 years) with deaf-blindness and multiple disabilities. On average, the educators were able to implement the assessment with fidelity. In addition, multiple examiners were able to reliably reach similar conclusions in all assessment areas. Available on the web:


Strategies for Classroom and Community --Perreault, Steve; Stremel, Kathleen; Welch, Therese Rafalowski. New York: AFB Press. Hand in Hand, Essentials of Communication and Orientation and Mobility for Your Students Who Are Deaf-Blind, Volume I  K,M. Huebner, J.G. Prickett, T.R. Welch and E. Joffee (Eds.) (1995) Module 13 of this book addresses interactions and the physical environment, interactions and the social environment and instructional strategies to increase communication. Publisher's web site:


Teacher Preparation --McLetchie, Barbara A. B. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Welcoming Students Who Are Deaf-Blind into Typical Classrooms - Facilitating School Participation, Learning, and Friendships. Norris G. Haring and Lyle T. Romer (Eds.). (1995) Chapter 5 sketches the history of educating individuals who are deaf-blind.  Then current issues in preparing personnel to work with infants, children, and youth who are deaf-blind is discussed.  These issues include the shortage of qualified personnel, geographic dispersion of the deaf-blind population, the need for standards, and the roles of teachers.  The chapter concludes with a vision of the future in the preparation of personnel who will have the tremendous responsibility of including learners who are deaf-blind as participants in their homes, schools, and communities.


Unique Considerations for Assessing the Learning Media of Students Who Are Deaf-Blind --McKenzie, Amy R. 2010: American Foundation for the Blind. JOURNAL OF VISUAL IMPAIRMENT AND BLINDNESS, vol.103, #4, April 2009,  pp.241-245. (2009) This Practice Report describes the purpose and process of conducting learning media assessments in students who are deaf-blind.  It includes a description of the roles of educational team members, including teachers of students with visual impairments and deaf-blind specialists; how to determine necessary hearing and vision accommodations; assessment of conventional and functional learning media; and assessment of communication skills.


The Use of Learning Media Assessments with Students Who Are Deaf-Blind --McKenzie, Amy R. JVIB, October 2007, Volume 101, Number 10, pp. 587-600. (2007) This study investigated the decision-making process used by teachers of students with visual impairments in determining the literacy media of students who are deaf-blind. Data were collected using an online survey. The findings included the sporadic use of learning media assessments.


Using Social-Validity Assessments to Identify Meaningful Outcomes for Students with Deaf-Blindness --Schwartz, Ilene S. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Welcoming Students Who Are Deaf-Blind into Typical Classrooms - Facilitating School Participation, Learning, and Friendships. Norris G. Haring and Lyle T. Romer (Eds.). (1995) The purpose of Chapter 7 is to define the concepts of meaningful outcomes and social validity, describe how social-validity assessments can be used to identify and achieve meaningful outcomes and goals, and to outline the methodology currently available to researchers and practitioners working toward improving outcomes for students with deaf-blindness and other significant disabilities.

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