2015 National Deaf-Blind Child Count Overall Population Demographics
The overall December 1, 2015 “Snap Shot” count 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 censuses 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/youth across age groups has remained relatively stable over the past five to six years, with a slight shift toward a younger overall population.
Since 2010, the number of children from birth to 2 years of age has first decreased from 698 to 552 in 2013, and then increased again to 571 this past year. Since 2010 the numbers of children ages 3 to 5 has consistently dropped from 1271 in 2010 to 1160 in 2015. The numbers of children and youth ages 6 to 17 has grown consistently from 2010 to 2015. The numbers of youth 18 years of age and older has declined the past six years from 1785 to 1543.
The overall distribution of children and youth by race and ethnicity continues to evolve slowly as a reflection of the broader population. All of the categories except “white” continue to increase. The number of children and youth identified as white continues to decrease. A notable exception is that the numbers of children ages birth through 5 who are identified as Hispanic/Latino has decreased over the past six years.
The distribution of children and youth by gender has remained very stable over time, with about 54% of children and youth being male and 46% being female.
The apparent continued under-identification and referral to state and multi-state deaf-blind programs of very young infants and children remains an important issue. Infants and toddlers benefit greatly from having access to expertise in deaf-blindness. They require appropriate services that address the impacts of dual sensory impairments. Further, parents and families of these infants and toddlers can benefit from supports established within states. Without such early identification and referral to state and multi-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 most heterogeneous 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 effective services to these children and youth and their families.