Title: 'Early Intervention for Children who are Deafblind'
Track: 4 - Early Intervention
Keyword(s): Deafblind, Family, Early Intervention
Learning Objectives:
  1. 1. Participants will learn three ways families and caregivers can assist, participate, and support early intervention services for a child who is deafblind.
  2. 2. Participants will learn at least two ways to support early literacy development in a child with dual sensory loss through EI services.
  3. 3. Participants will learn how to create safe interactive play spaces for children who are deafblind, and how EI providers and families can interact with and learn from each other.


In the U.S., there are roughly 10,000 children who are deafblind. Deafblindness is a low incidence disability and within this population of children there is great variability. Ninety percent of children who are identified as deafblind have additional physical, medical, and/or cognitive disabilities. Although the term deafblind implies a complete absence of hearing and sight, in reality, it refers to children with varying degrees of vision and hearing loss. The key feature of deafblindness is that this combination of loss limits access to auditory and visual information and creates unique challenges for communication and education. As a result, families often face difficulties in securing the knowledge and resources needed to support their children. Students who are deafblind require special teaching methods and accommodations to succeed as learners and because the majority of these children receive their education in their local schools, there is an increased need for specialized professional development to train teachers and service providers. This session will provide participants with information regarding the unique needs of children with dual sensory loss and the special approaches and options EI providers and families have to support communication and play, thereby creating safe and meaningful learning opportunities for children who are deafblind. We will use video clips to show activities and techniques used by EI providers and families with an infant/toddler to foster play, communication, and early language development.
Presentation: Tuesday_Breathitt_300_TabithaBelhorn_1631.pdf

Handouts: Handout is not Available
CART: Topical Session 7- 1631.RTF
Tabitha Belhorn - Primary Presenter,POC
Executive Director, Ohio Hands and Voices
     Credentials: B.A.
      Tabitha Belhorn is the proud mother of three children the oldest of whom is Deaf and the youngest who lives with a chronic kidney disease. Tabitha has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Vocal Performance from Heidelberg University. Tabitha currently is the Family Information Specialist at the Ohio Center for Deafblind Education and Region V Co-Coordinator for Hands & Voices. She is a former Parent Mentor at the Ohio School for the Deaf and is also a founding member and board member of Ohio Hands & Voices. She has a widespread knowledge of family support, early intervention, and special education services. Tabitha’s expertise helps connect families to high quality resources, networks, and information needed to improve communication access and education outcomes for children.

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.
Leanne Parnell - Co-Presenter
Ohio Center for Deafblind Education
     Credentials: B.A.
      Leanne has a background in Deaf Education and ASL/English interpreting. She has worked in the Deaf/Deafblind communities for many years. She has experience working with families and children, as well as adults who are deaf and deafblind. Leanne is currently the Outreach Specialist at the Ohio Center for Deafblind Education. She coordinates many of the training opportunities, including INSITE, VIISA and SKI*HI. She is also responsible for organizing DBTAP visits, the Mentor Program, Milestone Packets, Lending Library and product requests.

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.