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Learning about Deafblindness

Why Now?

If you’re visiting this website, you show some interest in learning how your clinical knowledge and expertise as an occupational or physical therapist might best be translated into meaningful action as a member of the educational team for a deafblind student. That’s always the best place to start: curiosity. As an occupational therapist who came to TSBVI with no experience related to visual impairment, I had to learn everything the old fashion way – by making mistakes. Faced with the needs of deafblind children who have trouble communicating (not all of them have trouble), and who have other disabilities that impede functional skill development, it was hard to know where to start. But all of us have to start somewhere, because there are students who need our help. 

Why This?

There’s nothing out there about synthesizing theoretical models and applying them to our work as therapists, about how to take what has been developed in educational settings, by educators, and use those ideas to inform the practice of PT and OT in the schools. There’s no concise information about how various visual conditions impact movement or learning, and no quick references for further reading that applies to us as therapists. This is my attempt to provide that. I hope it’s helpful.

Chris Anne Strickling, OT, Ph.D
TSBVI Deafblind Outreach Specialist

What to Expect?

Students with visual and hearing impairments are as individual and unique as their typically-developing peers. No two are alike! There are, however some features in the development of DB students that are different from what is expected in children who grow up being able to use vision and hearing to make sense of the world. And, in much the same way that DB children are often different from their sighted peers, the educational strategies used for them are often much more complex than those of their friends. Here what you might expect in terms of:

Some Causes of Deafblindness