Diagnosing hearing and vision problems 

Deafblindness may be detected soon after a baby is born, or after tests carried out later in life.

Speak to your GP if you have any concerns about your or your child's hearing and/or vision at any point.

If you're worried about a family member or friend, try to encourage them to speak to their GP.

Newborn screening

If your baby is born deafblind, this will usually be picked up during newborn screening.

These are a series of checks carried out to see if your baby has any serious health problems from birth, including any problems with their eyes or hearing.

If no problems are picked up at this stage, they may be detected during routine checks as your child gets older. Read more about hearing tests for children and eye tests for children.

Hearing and vision tests for adults

In most cases, deafblindness develops as a person gets older. It can happen gradually, so you may not notice that your vision and/or hearing are getting worse at first.

It's therefore important to have routine eye tests to check for any problems. Adults should normally have their eyes tested every two years.

You can request a hearing test at your GP surgery at any point if you think you may be losing your hearing. Read more about hearing tests.

A person may be diagnosed with deafblindness if tests show they have both hearing and vision problems.

Their hearing and vision should continue to be regularly assessed even after they've been diagnosed, as the level of care and support they need will depend on how severely each sense is affected.

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Specialist assessment

As soon as deafblindness has been identified, a specialist assessment should be arranged by the local authority.

The assessment should only be carried out by a specially trained professional who is able to identify the deafblind person's abilities and needs. The assessment should include assessing their needs in relation to:

  • communication
  • one-to-one human contact
  • social interaction
  • emotional wellbeing
  • support with mobility
  • assistive technology
  • rehabilitation

The assessment will also take into account the person's current needs and those that develop in the future.

A deafblind person should have access to services suitable to their level of hearing and sight and their individual needs. Mainstream services aimed mainly at blind or deaf people may not always be appropriate.

Read more about the treatments and services available for deafblind people.

The charity Sense also has more information about the law and social care for deafblind people.

Page last reviewed: 21/09/2015

Next review due: 31/07/2018