Sometimes known as 'dual sensory impairment' or 'multi-sensory impairment' , deafblindness is more than a combination of visual and hearing impairments. A person can be born deafblind (congenital deafblindness) or acquire deafblindness later in life. The needs of these two groups, and the barriers they face, can be very different. Deafblind people may not be totally deaf and totally blind; many have some remaining hearing and vision. With an impairment of the two 'distance senses', deafblind people find that their mobility, communication and access to information are greatly affected.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 2.5 million people with deafblindness, most of whom experience high levels of poverty and social exclusion with extremely limited access to health care, education and social welfare support. In developing countries, children and adults who are deafblind are often institutionalised, kept in isolation or simply abandoned. However, with basic support and education, people with deafblindness can and do communicate, support themselves and become valued members of their communities. Clearly, there is a need to ensure that the rights of people with deafblindness are included in all development action.

The aim of this key list is to raise awareness on deafblindness and to provide access to resources to support development practitioners, service providers and parents/carers.

This key list has been produced in partnership with Sense International. We welcome your suggestions: please send comments or suggested additions to:

Sense International

Selected resources

Introductory resources

About deafblindness


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This booklet describes the causes, syndromes and genetic conditions that may cause deafblindness. Knowledge of conditions that cause deafblindness provides teachers with important clues to students’ health status, physical stability, potential development as well as understanding of symptoms and the progression of students’ conditions

Rubella and sensory impairment


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This factsheet describes how a child can be affected if a woman has rubella (often called German Measles) while she is pregnant. It oulines congenital rubella syndrome, vaccination success and long-term health concerns. Links are also provided to information about rubella and pregnancy, symptoms, diagnosing and preventing reubella

Sense International

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This international NGO promotes the communication, connection and interaction of deafblind people in the developing world. This website provides links to the organisation's regional programmes and details about their work. Educational information is available about the causes of deafblindness, the situation in developing countries and communication methods

Activities of daily living and skills development

Inclusive Education

Supporting Families