Teachers of Students Who Are Deafblind (TDB)

Teachers of students who are deafblind possess unique expertise in evaluation and instructional strategies associated with deafblind education. Certified Teachers of Students who are Deafblind (TDBs) are necessary as members of the IEP team for students who are deafblind; a low-incidence population with unique, high-intensity needs. Without appropriate input from trained personnel, students with combined vision and hearing loss may have significantly limited access to information, and to a free and appropriate educational program (FAPE). The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) has defined beginning knowledge and skill requirements for TDBs, and these CEC competencies are incorporated into university personnel preparation programs. As the educational needs of students who are deafblind vary widely, and there are rapid changes in assistive technology and other program components, ongoing professional development is essential.

The sections below offer greater detail on TDBs’ many areas of expertise and how their special skills are applied throughout the educational process

Assessment and Evaluation

During the IEP/IFSP process, TDBs collaborate with other professionals b­y:

    • serving as part of a group of qualified professionals to determine if a child meets federal and state eligibility for deafblind
    • providing information on the impact of etiology and sensory impairments on learning
    • providing guidance in the use of appropriate evaluation tools for students who are deafblind, including administration of the FVE/LMA, O&M, Communication Evaluation and ECC evaluations
    • participating in functional behavioral assessments to help the team understand the impact of being deafblind on behavior; observing behaviors to determine communicative intent in order to plan intervention
Student and TDB at the Calendar
A young girl and her TDB review her weekly calendar.
    • evaluating the impact of the child’s combined vision and hearing loss on the acquisition and use of their preferred mode of communication, language development and communication skills.
    • guiding the team in using the Interaction Protocol to identify a student’s communicative intent and initiatives, as well as supporting reciprocal interactions
    • explaining and analyzing evaluation results as they relate to deafblind education
    • recommending appropriate accommodations unique to deafblind education
    • providing resources specific to students who are deafblind to support the use of mobility techniques and devices
    • helping the educational team develop appropriate programming recommendations

Direct Instruction

Students who are deafblind require unique content and teaching methodologies. TDBs may take the lead in a diagnostic role to support effective learning environments. This may include development of conceptual learning, tactile skills, auditory skills, and attachment and bonding.

TDBs may provide direct instruction to students at all ages and developmental levels. Services may be provided in the home, in an school setting, at an early intervention program, or in the community.

Supporting Educational Teams

TDBs must be able to educate, support, and collaborate with the entire instructional team in areas unique to students who are deafblind. The team may include classroom teachers, a TVI, a TDHH, a COMS, an intervener, related service staff, and family members. Collaborative consultative programming includes planning with all members of the educational team to design a consistent, appropriate individualized educational program.

Teachers of Students who are Deafblind (TDBs) have particular expertise in:

    • helping individuals who are deafblind organize sensory information and orient to space and objects across environments
    • recommending adapted strategies for access to the general curriculum and participation in the school community
    • using strategies to regulate behavior
    • using literacy instruction to foster acquisition of cognitive, social, and linguistic skills
    • supporting the use of appropriate assistive technologies
    • using effective interventions and management techniques for positioning, sensory management, movement, balance, and hand use
    • recommending instructional modifications to accommodate functional vision and hearing and maximize use of other sensory systems
    • providing augmentative and alternative communication systems individualized for those who are deafblind
    • providing information on deafblind-specific resources in development of transition plans

Supporting Interveners

Paraprofessionals with training in supporting individuals who are deafblind:

    • provide the team and administrators with information about the intervener team model
    • help the team determine whether individual students who are deafblind need an intervener
    • model and promote use of deafblind strategies for the intervener to use with the student
    • work with the team to determine the appropriate role for an intervener with an individual student

Additional Responsibilities

Deafblind Field-Related Professional Responsibilities

    • obtain pre-service coursework in deafblind education that is aligned with CEC professional standards
    • participate in ongoing in-service to increase skills in the area of serving those who are deafblind
    • stay current on state and national efforts related to the intervener team model and teacher credential initiatives
    • participate in state and national efforts in product and resource development, research, and advocacy
    • join professional organizations that focus on supporting those who are deafblind
    • stay current with resources from the National Center on DeafBlindness
    • maintain a resource library on deafblind resources
    • participate in local, regional, and state comprehensive planning activities for system improvement with the Educational Service Center’s Deafblind Specialist and the Texas Deafblind Project

Administrative and Record-Keeping Duties

    • register each eligible student with the Texas Education Agency via the Deafblind Child Count; as explained on the TSBVI.edu page, “DB Child Count
    • maintain records on all evaluations, IFSPs/IEPs, and progress reports
    • attend IFSP and ARD/IEP meetings
    • monitor and record student progress toward IEP goals and objectives, noting effective instructional strategies and accommodations for individual students

Service Delivery Models

Models for service delivery by TDBs vary and may include itinerant or self-contained classrooms.Creativity to meet student needs is necessary given the low incidence of this population. Some districts establish a sensory team that includes sensory professionals (TVI, TDHH, COMS) and other related specialists, with the TDB as lead.

The TDB may concurrently serve as the TVI and/or the TDHH if there is not a full caseload of students who are deafblind. The TDB role is an additional unique skill set related to deafblind education, obtained through pre-service coursework.

If the TDB is certified as a TVI, the TDB may contribute to or conduct the functional vision evaluation, the Learning Media Assessment, and orientation and mobility evaluations. If the TDB is not certified in visual impairments, the TDB should participate with the TVI/COMS in these evaluations, contributing information related to the impact of being deafblind.

If the TDB is a certified TDHH, the TDB may contribute to or conduct the Communication Evaluation, including the functional hearing evaluation. If the TDB is not certified in serving students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, the TDB should participate with the TDHH in these evaluations, contributing information related to the impact of being deafblind.

Additional Resources

Additional articles, assessment materials, video compilations, training manuals, useful forms, and other items can be found in TSBVI’s “TDB Toolbox” on Google Drive. Email tdbpilotproject@tsbvi.edu if you’re having problems accessing these materials.