Characteristics and experiences of Youth who are Deaf-Blind

Authors: McGilloway, S., & Donnelly, M.
Year Published 2017
Pages 1-38
Publisher The NRTC on Blindness & Low Vision

According to the National Center on Deaf-Blindness' (NCDB) there have been 8,937 individuals from age 3 to 21, identified with deaf-blindness. Approximately two thirds of transition-age youth with deaf-blindness have participated in state vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs. However, very limited research exists that gives an accurate depiction of the deaf-blind community's experience.


This report describes deaf-blind youth in a sample from 2001 to 2009 and examines the population's characteristics, secondary school experiences, academic achievements, postsecondary school attendance, and employment experiences. The perspective of this report is from that of parents/guardians, youth, and teachers.


Data for this report come from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) from 2001 to 2009. Data for this sample were collected via mail surveys and interviews of youth and their parents/guardians, surveys of school personnel, and district assessments.


Participants included young adults who identified as having visual and auditory loss as a primary disability.

Data Collection

Data collection used in this NLTS2 sample were conducted every two years with a total of five waves from 2001 to 2009 with the largest sample size occurring during Wave 1 (170).


There was no control group.


A detailed description of the school and employment experience of young adults who are deaf-blind is included in this report. However several commonalities presented themselves within this sample including that the majority of respondents (92% or more), lived with their parent(s) or other relatives, received transition planning for adult life, received special services from their school, and most had one or more accommodation identified on their individualized education program (IEP).


Although this dataset has been used to represent transition aged youth with disabilities in the past, this report is the first for young adults who are deaf-blind in the United States at a national level. These data are somewhat dated and it would be beneficial to continue this research with a more recent sample.

Disabilities Hearing impairments | Visual impairments
Populations Male & Female | Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
NIDILRR Funded Yes
Research Design Observational
Peer Reviewed No