Deaf Blindness

Deaf blindness refers to the combination of hearing and visual loss that severely impedes communication, education, socialisation, mobility, employment and independent living.

Behaviour Help is a registered NDIS provider.

deaf blindness child seeks comfort from a puppy

Definition of Deaf Blindness

Deaf blindness refers to the combination of hearing and visual loss that severely impedes communication, education, socialisation, mobility, employment and independent living.


Types of Deaf Blindness

  • Congenitally deaf blind is a term used when a person is born with a combined sight and hearing impairment.  
  • Congenitally deaf and adventitiously blind is a term used when a person who is born deaf or has a hearing impairment later experiences deteriorating vision.
  • Congenitally blind and adventitiously deaf is a term used when a person is born blind or has a vision impairment later experiences deteriorating hearing. 
  • Adventitiously deafblind is a term used when a person is born with vision and hearing and later experiences deterioration in both senses  (not necessarily at the same time).


Causes of Deaf Blindness

There are a range of genetic conditions, disorders and illness that cause deaf blindness:

  • Congenitally deaf blind (e.g. Maternal Rubella, CHARGE, Cytomegalovirus).
  • Congenitally deaf and adventitiously blind (e.g. Usher Syndrome Type 1, Cataracts, Glaucoma, Age-related Maculopathy).
  • Congenitally blind and adventitiously deaf (e.g. Diseases: Meningitis; Mumps; chemical toxins including drugs and alcohol and age related hearing loss).
  • Adventitiously deafblind (e.g. trauma, illness, aging, Usher Syndrome Types 2 and 3).


Symptoms of Deaf Blindness

Symptoms vary due to differences in extent, type and sensory impairments; personal characteristics and skills developed, including interests (Hersh, 2013).


Possible Signs of a Hearing Impairment:

  • Lack of, or delayed development of, speech and language.
  • Not responding when addressed.
  • Difficulty with following directions or instructions.
  • Seeming distracted and/or confused.
  • Turning head to position ear in the direction of the speaker.
  • Favouring one ear over another.
  • Using a loud voice when speaking.
  • Mispronouncing words (such as misarticulation of certain speech sounds or omitting certain consonant sounds).
  • Asking for information to be repeated frequently.
  • Appearing to be inattentive, restless, tired or daydreaming.
  • Distracted easily by visual or auditory stimuli.
  • Intently watching faces during conversation.
  • Giving incorrect answers to questions.
  • Not startled by loud noises.
  • Preferring to be by themselves (i.e., playing alone rather than with a group, or withdrawing from social situations).
  • Problems hearing environmental sounds (i.e. doorbell, telephone ringing, people calling).
  • Sitting close to the sound source (e.g. TV, radio, and/or turning up the volume).


Possible Signs of a Vision impairment:

  • Rubbing eyes during or after short periods of visual activity.
  • Bumping or tripping into things regularly.
  • Difficulty moving around unfamiliar places.
  • Difficulty coping and seeing in low light or bright light.
  • Holds book too closely; face too close to desk surface or sitting up close near technology. 
  • Problems seeing in low light or bright light.
  • Difficulty identifying faces, facial expressions or making eye contact.
  • Trouble with identifying colours.
  • Relying primarily on touch to find and identify items.


Hersh, M. (2013, June 7). Deafblind People, Communication, Independence, and Isolation. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 18(4), p. 446–463.


Behaviour Help

If you are supporting an individual with this diagnosis, please refer to our services and resources. They aim to help children, adolescents and adults achieve better communication, social, emotional, behavioural and learning outcomes. So whether you are wanting guidance on parenting, teaching, supporting or providing therapy, Behaviour Help is at hand.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes, symptoms and types but some general information that can be further explored. Based on what you have read if you have any concerns about an individual, please raise them with the individual/s. The caregiver can then raise these concerns with their local doctor who can provide a referral to the relevant professional (e.g. paediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, allied health professional and learning specialists) for diagnosis and treatment if appropriate.

Which resources are right for you?


Based on the Taking CHARGE of Rainbow of Emotions Workbook this app helps children of all ages develop emotional regulation skills. The app guides the child to firstly, identify and express their emotion in appropriate ways. Then the child is guided to use emotional management tool/s from the CHARGE tool kit to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

The acronym CHARGE stands for the different categories of emotional management tools – Chat tools, Helpful thinking tools, Amusement tools, Relaxation tools, Good routine tools and Exercise tools.

Behaviour Help App - Using the evidence-based approach of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), the Behaviour Help web-based app allows people supporting individuals with emotional and behavioural difficulties to complete a Functional Behaviour Analysis and put together a comprehensive Behaviour Support Plan (BSP). The BSP can then be used by everyone interacting with the individual to manage and prevent challenging behaviours and ultimately improve their lives, and the lives of those who support them.


If you want to learn more about emotional and behavioural difficulties then we have a great range of books you can read on your Kindle or order from Amazon.


Personalised and practical one to one help tailored specifically to your family.

Online Courses

Access these online courses anytime online to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotional regulation skills. Also learn to utilise the positive behaviour support framework to address anxiety, aggression, ADHD, ASD and ODD.

SEL Educational Videos

Minimise or eliminate the occurrence of challenging behaviours by teaching children of all ages appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, managing their emotions and behaviours.

The SEL curriculum uses video modelling to provide direct, explicit and systematic teaching of the various skills by discussing the importance of the skill, modelling the skill so the child learns what the skill looks like? sounds like? feels like? and learn the skill in staged situations that simulate real life scenarios.


Personalised and practical behaviour therapy tailored specifically to your family.


Webinars discuss a range of practical strategies to guide your child learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.


Attend our practical and interactive workshops to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotions, behaviours, social and communication skills in your learning environment.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

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