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2015 National Deaf-Blind Child Count Documented Hearing and Vision Loss

The overall distribution of degree of vision loss has remained relatively consistent over time. About 80% of the children and youth were identified as having low vision, being legally blind or having a documented functional vision loss in 2015.  Only about 5% of the population is totally blind.

The number of children and youth who have an identified cortical vision impairment has grown slightly over the past six years and was about 30% of the population.

The percentage of children/youth identified as needing further vision testing has decreased from about 7% to 6.1% over the past six years.

The documented degree of hearing loss is much more evenly distributed from mild to profound hearing loss. Children and youth with profound hearing loss make up the largest group at nearly 20%. The number of children with a documented functional hearing loss is about equal to the number of children and youth with a mild hearing loss.

Relatively few children and youth have been identified as having a central auditory processing disorder (7%) or auditory neuropathy (5.7%).

The percentage of children/youth identified as needing further hearing testing has decreased from 8.2% to 6.9% over the past six years.

The number of children identified as having received cochlear implants has increased from 662 in 2010 (7.1%) to 1,085 in 2015 (11.3%).  This increase spans the age ranges, from infants to young adults.

Less than half of the children and youth make use of corrective lenses (40%) or assistive listening devices (47%). Assistive Technology has an increasingly important place in the lives of children and youth who are deaf-blind. The past several years, however, has seen leveling off in the use of assistive technologies with these children.  The percentage of children and youth making use of assistive technologies has remained fairly constant over the past 5 years at about 45% of the population.

The broad ranges and combinations of vision and hearing loss of the children and youth on the National Deaf-Blind Child Count provide evidence of the heterogeneous nature of this population and their needs. Only about 1% of the population has a profound hearing loss and is totally blind. The other 99% have some residual hearing or vision.

While the numbers of children and youth needing further vision and or hearing testing has decreased over time, there is still a need for increasing access to pediatric audiologists and optometrists.

The numbers of children and youth who have been identified as having a cortical vision impairment (30%) indicate continued work in this area is crucial.

The numbers of children/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 Network to provide appropriate supports for this growing population.

Assistive Technology has an increasingly important place in the lives of children and youth who are deaf-blind. The past several years, however, has seen leveling off in the use of assistive technologies with these children. The percentage of children and youth making use of assistive technologies has remained fairly constant over the past five years at about 45%. 

Sensory Loss


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