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Teacher and blind student at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas

Student with camera.The Teacher of Students with DeafBlindness website provides a centralized gathering place offering opportunities for a community of practice, a sharing of ideas, and resources.


Unique Roles and Responsibilities of the Teacher of Students with DeafBlindness 

Model in Texas


Teachers of students with DeafBlindness possess unique expertise in evaluation and instructional strategies associated with DeafBlindness. Certifiedteachers of students with DeafBlindness (TDBs) are necessary as members of the IEP team for students with DeafBlindness; 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 with DeafBlindness 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.



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 DeafBlindness
  • Providing information on the impact of etiology and sensory impairments on learning
  • Providing guidance in the use of appropriate evaluation tools for students with DeafBlindness, including administration of the FVE/LMA, O&M and ECC evaluations
  • Participating in functional behavioral assessments to help the team understand the impact of DeafBlindness on behavior; observing behaviors to determine communicative intent in order to plan interventions
  • 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 DeafBlindness 
  • Recommending appropriate accommodations unique to DeafBlindness
  • Providing resources specific to DeafBlindness to support the use of mobility techniques and devices 
  • Helping the educational team develop appropriate programming recommendations

Direct Instruction

Students with DeafBlindness 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, at an early intervention program, or in the community. 


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

TDBs have particular expertise in:

  • Helping individuals with DeafBlindness organize sensory information and orient to space and objects across environments
  • Recommendingadaptedstrategiesforaccesstothegeneralcurriculumandparticipationintheschoolcommunity
  • 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 with DeafBlindness
  • Providing information on DeafBlind resources in development of transition plans

Supporting interveners (paraprofessionals with training in deafblindness)

  • Providing the team and administrators with information about the intervener team model
  • Helping the team determine whether individual students with DeafBlindness need an intervener 
  • Modeling and promoting use of DeafBlind strategies for the intervener to use with the student
  • Working with the team to determine the appropriate role for an intervener with an individual student

Deafblindness Field-Related Professional Responsibilities 

  • Obtain preservice coursework in DeafBlindness that is aligned with CEC professional standards
  • Participate in ongoing in-service to increase skills in the area of DeafBlindness
  • 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 DeafBlindness 
  • Stay current with resources from the National Center on DeafBlindness
  • Maintain a resource library on DeafBlindness
  • 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-KeepingDuties

  • Register each eligible student with the Texas Education Agency via the DeafBlind Child Count
  • Maintain records on all evaluations, IFSPs/IEPs, and progress reports
  • Attend IFSP and ARD 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 with DeafBlindness. The TDB role is an additional unique skill set related to DeafBlindness, obtained through preservice coursework.   

 If the TDB is certified as a TVI, the TDB may contribute to or conductthefunctionalvisionevaluation, theLearningMediaAssessment, 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 DeafBlindness 

IF the TDB is a certified TDHH, the TDB may contribute to or conduct the functional hearing evaluation. If the TDB is not certified in hearing impairment, the TDB should participate with the TDHH in these evaluations, contributing information related to the impact of of DeafBlindnes


Related links

CEC Initial Special Ed DeafBlind Specialty Set:

CEC DVIDB Division articles: (see page 34) (see page 15)  

Texas SenseAbilities, 2009:






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