Deafblind Guidance

Guidance explaining how local authorities should act in relation to care and support for adults and children who are deafblind.

Councils in England and Wales have to follow guidance on how to provide services for children and adults who are deafblind. The guidance was created to make sure people receive the right support and services from their local authority.

In England, the latest version of the guidance, 'Care and Support for Deafblind Children and Adults', was issued in December 2014 by the Department of Health.

In Wales, councils have similar duties.

Who it covers

The Guidance gives a broad definition of deafblindness: 'Persons are regarded as deafblind if their combined sight and hearing impairment cause difficulties with communication, access to information and mobility'.

This means that anyone who has both a hearing and a sight loss, which causes them problems in everyday life, is covered by the Guidance. People do not have to be completely deaf and blind.

What it asks of local authorities

The Guidance asks local authorities to:

  • Identify, make contact with and keep a record of people who are deafblind in their area (including those who have multiple disabilities that include dual-sensory impairment).
  • Ensure that care and support assessments are carried out by a person or team that is 'suitably qualified' - having specific training and expertise related to deafblindness. This is particularly important to assess communication, one-to-one human contact, social interaction and emotional wellbeing, support with mobility, assistive technology and rehabilitation need.
  • Ensure that services are appropriate, recognising that people may not necessarily benefit from mainstream or other services aimed primarily at people who are either deaf or blind.
  • Ensure that people are able to access specifically trained, one-to-one support workers if they are assessed as requiring one.
  • Provide information and advice in ways that are accessible to people who are deafblind.
  • Ensure that a director-level member of the local authority has overall responsibility for deafblind services.

The assessment and who is qualified to carry it out

Regardless of whether you are receiving services already or this is your first  assessment, you should ask to be assessed in accordance with the Deafblind Guidance.

The assessment will consist of you meeting with the person who will be  assessing you, usually a social worker, once or on several occasions.

The person assessing you will probably use an assessment form. You can ask for accessible (i.e. in a format you can use, such as braille) copies of this before the first meeting. This will give you an idea of the sort of questions you may be asked.

The person carrying out your assessment should have had training on the following areas:

  • Communication
  • One-to-one human contact
  • Social interaction and emotional well-being
  • Support with mobility
  • Assistive technology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Assessing adults who are deafblind

Councils must undertake an assessment for any adult who appears to have needs for care and support. The social services department within your local authority has a duty to provide you with support if you need it and if your needs are eligible needs .

If you are an adult who is deafblind, the person carrying out your social care assessment, must have knowledge of deafblindness to a minimum Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) level 3. They should be qualified at a higher QCF level if you have more complex needs.

People with more complex needs are those who were born deafblind, have changing or deteriorating needs, or additional needs, such as dementia or a learning disability.

A person with a Certificate in Deafblind studies has a level 4 qualification, whilst a person with a diploma in Deafblind studies is qualified to level 5.

Assessing children who are deafblind

When children are assessed, this should be carried out by someone who is specifically trained to understand their needs as a child who is deafblind.

The two qualifications which would be relevant to assessing a child are:

  • Diploma in Deafblind Studies.
  • Education of Learners with Multisensory Impairment (Deafblindness) MEd/BPhil/Postgraduate Diploma/ Postgraduate Certificate/Advanced Certificate.

The services your child is assessed as needing should be provided by people who have the appropriate training and skills.

Obtaining a copy of the Deafblind Guidance

You can download the Deafblind Guidance from the GOV.UK website.

The Welsh guidance is available to download from the Welsh Government website.

You can also contact Sense Information and Advice to request a copy of the Guidance.

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