2021 statewide Needs Assessment reveals critical gaps for DeafBlind children and youth as well as their families
10/7/2021 8:46:10 AM
For Immediate Release
Contact: Anne Sittner Anderson, 612-404-2441, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saint Paul, Minnesota (October 7, 2021) – The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) announced today the results of the 2021 Needs Assessment for children and youth (ages birth-21) with combined hearing and vision loss (DeafBlind).
At any given time, Minnesota has approximately 350-375 children identified with combined hearing and vision loss (DeafBlind). The children included in the child count are typically identified after the age of five. The total number of children and youth who have combined hearing and vision loss is most likely higher. Of the identified children, 1/3 have “DeafBlind” as their primary disability in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 83% of the children have additional disabilities, including physical, complex health, or intellectual disabilities.
In early 2021, the members of the Collaborative Plan DeafBlind workgroup recognized that a needs assessment was necessary to fully identify all gaps experienced by DeafBlind children and youth as well as their families.
“The Collaborative Plan stakeholders works together to make data-informed, systemic children for students who are deaf or hard of hearing,” explains Danelle Gournaris, M.A., M.S., Collaborative Plan Program Director. “The DeafBlind student population has been included in this work but never separated into their own low incidence category. Since we did not have data specifically about this sub-group, historically we have been unable to make specific changes to improve outcomes. This has now changed.”
The Commission contracted with Wilder Research to do the study.
Wilder Research interviewed 45 DeafBlind young adults, families with children and youth with combined hearing and vision loss, and professionals serving the families. The findings were used to create a data-informed strategic plan report as well as a visual summary.
The results can be found at
There are six identified action items stemming from the study.
The DeafBlind workgroup will use this study to make data-informed plans for the future. One important task for the workgroup is to leverage the already-existing network of service providers, including schools, nonprofits, medical providers, and government programs so that they can streamline services together instead of working in silos.
Separately, the Commission is exploring possible legislative and public policy solutions such as establishing a DeafBlind waiver program, which would provide funding for case management, medical and therapeutic services, and more. Another possible policy solution is to add intervener language into the education statute as a first step in insuring appropriate support services for students with combined hearing and vision loss. Interveners are trained professionals who provide students with information adapted to the student’s unique needs, including environmental, visual, auditory, and conceptual information.
A note for reporters and editors: the Commission has a list of individuals available for interviews about the strategic plan and needs assessment. Contact Anne Sittner Anderson to help coordinate and schedule interviews at 612-404-1441 or email@example.com.
The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) is a governor-appointed Commission that advocates for communications access and equal opportunity with the 20% of Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. MNCDHH works with the community to: identify barriers to communication access and equal opportunity, develop solutions, empower by building community capacity, and advocate through civic engagement
The Collaborative Plan is a network of agencies, schools, and organizations that work together to create positive, systemic changes to achieve better education and career outcomes for students who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing. The Commission serves as the host but all stakeholder members are equal partners. There are five workgroups under the Plan; Birth-Age 5, Kindergarten-Grade 4, Grades 5-8, Transition (Grade 9-Age 21), and DeafBlind.
Wilder Research, a division of Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, is a nationally respected nonprofit research and evaluation group. For more than 100 years, Wilder Research has gathered and interpreted facts and trends to help families and communities thrive, get at the core of community concerns, and uncover issues that are overlooked or poorly understood.