NCDB 2022 Impact Report
Published May 2023
The National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) provides technical assistance (TA) to state deaf-blind projects across the country to assist them in improving services for children who are deaf-blind, strengthen their internal processes and procedures, and collect data about the children they serve. NCDB and the state projects are funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. Currently, there are 47 state and multi-state deaf-blind projects.
NCDB also collaborates with key national partners that provide or influence services for children who are deaf-blind in four initiative areas: (1) family engagement, (2) identification and referral, (3) interveners and qualified personnel, and (4) transition. These partnerships are essential because the needs of children who are deaf-blind and their families cannot be addressed by the state deaf-blind projects and NCDB alone.
Each year, we ask for input on our work and use the feedback to create positive change in the years that follow. We use a variety of methods, including surveys, interviews, fidelity checks, and focus groups.
The following methods were used to collect evaluation data during 2022.
Annual Survey: This survey of state deaf-blind project staff was developed and disseminated by NCDB and analyzed by an independent program evaluator.
State Deaf-Blind Project Interviews: To gather more information about NCDB TA and program effectiveness, interviews were conducted with 11 state deaf-blind projects by the same independent evaluator.
Key Findings: 2022 Annual Survey
Fifty-three state deaf-blind project staff members completed the survey, including education specialists, TA specialists, family engagement specialists, program coordinators, and project directors.
Nearly all (92-98%) reported that they
- Accessed the NCDB website
- Agreed that website resources were aligned with policy/professional practice, addressed their needs, increased their knowledge, and were useful for their work with families and educators
- Agreed that the website’s “For State Projects” section provided helpful information, kept them informed, and increased their knowledge of high-quality TA practices
- Interacted with NCDB staff, primarily through NCDB webinars, peer learning communities, and direct contact with NCDB staff members
Respondents also provided feedback on how they used two of NCDB’s products—practice guides, which outline essential components of instructional practices for children who are deaf-blind, and Providing Technical Assistance to Families: A Guide for State Deaf-Blind Projects.
- 66% indicated they had used a least one of the practice guides for child-specific TA, to support families, or for presentations and training
- 49% used Providing Technical Assistance to Families to support families and inform child-specific TA
Key Findings: 2022 State Deaf-Blind Project Interviews
Eleven state deaf-blind projects (AZ, FL, IN, MN, MO, NJ, OH, RI, SD, UT, and WV) were randomly selected to be interviewed.
Overall themes that emerged included
- NCDB resources were essential in helping them prepare training events for educators, paraprofessionals, and families
- NCDB services supported communication and collaboration among state projects through peer learning communities and other opportunities for joint activities and information-sharing
In addition, participants indicated that NCDB helped them navigate many challenges including
- Providing training and TA during the pandemic
- An increased need for outreach to families during the pandemic, especially for those without internet access
- Identifying children who are deaf-blind in systems with limited deaf-blind recognition and awareness
- Improving transition outcomes
- Facilitating the use of high-quality educational practices
NCDB made significant strides toward achieving important outcomes through our information services and technology (IST) and technical assistance (TA) activities. IST activities include our website, library services, product development, and information dissemination. TA activities include services to state deaf-blind projects and collaboration with state projects and national partners.
Information Services and Technology
This section lists products and resources developed in 2022 to meet the needs of several audiences, including state deaf-blind projects, families, and educators. Products are developed using a systematic process that includes careful consideration of each audience and their needs.
Professional Development Products
A significant accomplishment was the publication of The Impact of Deafblindness on Learning and Development, the first in a series of professional development modules for educators. The module was the result of extensive planning that not only led to its publication but also established a format and process that is being used for future modules in the series.
Other professional development products:
Information About Children Who Are Deaf-Blind
Resources that promote understanding and awareness of deaf-blindness:
- Overview of Deaf-Blindness fact sheet (also available as an online infographic)
- 2021 National Deaf-Blind Child Count Report
- Identifying Dual Sensory Loss in Students With the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities [NCDB/ATLAS BRIEF #1]
- CVI and Other Visual Impairments in Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities [NCDB/ATLAS Brief #2]
School Administrator Resources
Products that administrators and schools can use to help identify and serve children who are deaf-blind:
- Identification of Children With Deaf-Blindness: Resources for School Administrators
- Tools to Employ and Support Interveners
State Deaf-Blind Project Resources
Information to inform state deaf-blind project TA:
- State Deaf-Blind Project Planning Resources
- Understanding Access to the General Education Curriculum (article)
- Access to the General Education Curriculum (webpage)
Articles by Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind
Articles that offer perspectives and advice from adults for teens and young adults transitioning to adulthood:
Tiered TA to State Deaf-Blind Projects
Key elements of TA to state deaf-blind projects are peer learning communities (PLCs), which bring together state deaf-blind project personnel working on similar activities, and intensive TA, which provides more in-depth, individualized consultation and support, and requires a formal agreement and long-term commitment (learn more about NCDB’s support for state deaf-blind projects).
- Compared to 2021, there was a 10% increase in state deaf-blind project engagement in PLC meetings in 2022.
- The number of projects that actively participated in at least one PLC increased from 39 to 43.
- Individual intensive TA plans were established with nine states to support implementation of systems-change strategies related to interveners, improving transition outcomes, and employment.
- Intensive TA provided to 27 projects was guided by memorandums of understanding related to improving transition outcomes, cultural competency, and the Charting the Life Course framework.
Collaborative Activities with State Deaf-Bind Projects and National Partners
In 2022, we made significant progress in advancing our work with national partners and promoting relationships between state-level affiliates of a number of the partners and their respective state deaf-blind projects. The following are some key examples.
- Peer Mentoring Program for Youth with Usher Syndrome Kickoff Activity. The Usher Coalition, the National Deaf Center (NDC), state deaf-blind projects, and NCDB held an event using a community conversations approach facilitated by NDC to develop a peer mentoring program curriculum for Usher mentors and mentees.
- Strengthening Connections with Parent Training and Information Centers. In October 2022, in Washington, DC, NCDB hosted a meeting with parent center personnel representing all four parent TA center regions. At the meeting, representatives shared information about their activities with NCDB staff and discussed ways to enhance collaboration between parent centers, state deaf-blind projects, and NCDB. This was a solid kick-off event for new partnerships that have led to ongoing meetings connecting parent centers with state deaf-blind projects and support from NCDB to increase parent center personnel knowledge of deaf-blindness and increase identification and referrals.
- Increasing Access to the General Education Curriculum. In collaboration with Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (ATLAS), NCDB developed Dynamic Learning Maps, that show essential elements of English language arts and mathematics relevant to the sensory needs of children who are deaf-blind and have extensive support needs. The development included convening panels of state deaf-blind project personnel and other experts. The maps will be used to create resources that support access to the general education curriculum for students with deaf-blindness.
NCDB staff are currently engaged with state deaf-blind projects and other partners in activities to address our evaluation findings and build on achievements to date. These include
- Providing tiered TA to state deaf-blind projects to support systems change for children who are deaf-blind and their families in the four initiative areas
- Expanding activities with parent centers to promote collaboration with state deaf-blind projects that ensure families have the information and training they need to partner effectively with educators and other service providers
- Completing the development of the second module (“Early Intervention for Children Who Are Deafblind”) in the "Teaching Children Who Are Deafblind: Professional Development for Educators" series and beginning a third module on communication
- Developing new practice guides on communication
- Collaborating with ATLAS to develop instructional resources, including professional development materials and lesson planning tools, that support the use of the new Dynamic Learning Maps in instructional planning for students who are deaf-blind and have extensive support needs
- Continuing work with partners to develop a peer mentoring program curriculum for Usher mentors and mentees to improve employment outcomes