Combined Vision & Hearing Loss in Adults & Seniors

The loss of both sight and hearing can have a devastating impact on a senior’s independence, communication abilities, and self-esteem. This section addresses the needs of adults experiencing combined vision and hearing impairments, their families, and caregivers.
Below is a list of topics you'll find in this section. Click on a title to jump to a specific topic.

Combined Vision and Hearing Loss in Seniors: Introduction

American Rehabilitation
An authority in the field explores the need for planning, support systems, and program development for older adults with hearing and vision loss.
Community Care
An examination of the service needs of people whose dual sensory loss develops after the age of 60, focusing on their vulnerability and isolation.
The social service needs of elderly people who have a combined vision and hearing loss.
Videnscentret for Døvblindblevne (Information Center for Acquired Deafblindness)
Ole Mortensen focuses on the demographics and rehabilitation and other special needs of visually impaired seniors who also have an age-related hearing loss. Scroll down the list of links to download this paper.
Action on Hearing Loss
This factsheet lists the different categories of deafblindness experienced by older people and some of the challenges they face. Scroll through the list of Factsheets to download.

Combined Vision & Hearing Loss: Organizations & Resources to Explore

Created by a man with deafblindness, this information site is mostly for other people who are deafblind, but includes material for family members and service providers.
AADB is a national consumer organization of, by, and for deafblind Americans and their supporters.
DbI brings together professionals, researchers, families, consumers, and administrators all around the world to raise awareness about deafblindness. The site includes articles on service guidelines, education issues, communication, and interpreting.
Healthy Hearing is an online resource for information about hearing health. While there is little about deafblindness, this is a good source for in-depth information on specific hearing loss conditions and hearing aids.
HKNC provides support services and residential training to youth and adults who are deafblind, their families, and the professionals who serve them, including Senior Adult Services, aimed at service providers nationwide.
NCDB is a national technical assistance and dissemination center for information about deafblindness. While most resources focus on the needs of children and youth, there is wealth of information here in the Adult Services section.
The Interpreter’s Friend
Many articles on a wide range of topics, including communication methods, advocacy, and assistive devices.
Sense offers online publications and resources for people with a dual sensory impairment, their families, caregivers, and the professionals who work with them.

Advice for Seniors with Combined Vision & Hearing Loss

Advice for older adults with vision and hearing loss who want to be fully engaged participants in the world.

Assistive Devices for Combined Vision & Hearing Loss

The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program
The iCanConnect program distributes communication equipment to qualifying people who are deafblind. This page has a good introduction to the various forms of assistive technology.

Caregivers & Service Providers: Practical Strategies

Aimed at social workers in the U.K., but the guidelines will be helpful for any professional working with older people; advice on recognizing the signs of dual sensory loss and understanding its impact on the individual’s life.
Identifying older people with sensory loss who need rehabilitation or specialist services.  Also available in Welsh.
The Interpreter's Friend
An excellent tutorial aimed at service providers who are beginning to work with people with deaf blindness. Includes background on visual effects of various causes of deafblindness, etiquette, sighted guide techniques, communication methods, and much more.
Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deaf-Blind
Theresa Smith offers guidelines for interacting with someone who has a combined vision and hearing loss.
This booklet includes advice on mobility and the environment, best practices, and resources. The checklist helps staff identify people who may have unrecognized sensory loss. Also available in plain text.

Interpreters for Seniors with Combined Vision & Hearing Loss

American Association of the Deaf-Blind
Do’s and don’ts for interpreters working with individuals who have dual sensory impairment.

Orientation & Mobility with Combined Vision & Hearing Loss

Dona Sauerburger
O&M Specialist Dona Sauerburger outlines strategies when encountering an unfamiliar intersection, requesting assistance, and teaching tips for instructors.
Simple standards for guiding and interacting with people with deafblindness: approaching them courteously, explaining the environment, communicating, and sighted-guide techniques.
This section of the Special Issue on Orientation and Mobility focuses on communicating with vision and hearing loss, and the use of hearing aids while traveling.

Research: Combined Vision & Hearing Loss in Seniors

Archives of Ophthalmology 2006;124(10):1465-1470
A study of the effect of age-related vision and hearing impairments on health and quality of life.
European Blind Union No. 45
Ole Mortensen looks at surveys that show how many older people experience vision and hearing loss, and the need for services revealed by these statistics.
Social Care Institute for Excellence
Issues relating to the identification of people over the age of 60 in the UK who have combined hearing and sight impairments.
American Journal of Public Health. 2004 May; 94(5): 823–829
An examination of the health, activity, and social participation of elderly people with vision impairment, hearing loss, or both. Also in pdf

Service Guidelines for Seniors with Combined Vision & Hearing Loss

This guide for service providers examines many aspects of deafblindness, including identification, assessment, communication, and services.
Deafblind International (DBI) 
Deafblind International outlines the unique needs of people who are deafblind and offers a set of best practice guidelines for providing services. Suitable for government agencies and private service providers.

Vision Loss Combined with Other Disabilities in Older Adults

The loss of vision presents special challenges to seniors with cognitive impairments. This section features advice for family and caregivers of older adults with combined visual and intellectual disabilities.
The Arc of the United States
This article lists the symptoms of vision loss in older people with developmental disabilities, and discusses the importance of getting appropriate services.