Deafblind UK and Anglia Ruskin University researching impact of deafblindness on young people

The research will inform a pathway through which Deafblind UK will deliver support to children and young people with deafblindness

A child wearing a blue cochlear implant is photographed from the side, leaning over a desk and drawing in a school exercise book
Deafblind UK

Research led by Anglia Ruskin University and Deafblind UK will assess the impact of deafblindness on academic and social success for young people.

Led by teacher and PhD student, Claire Manford, the project will inform a new pathway through which Deafblind UK will deliver support to children and young people.

Manford believes that as many as one in 140 children in mainstream schools could be deafblind.

She said: “After 20 years as a teacher and multi-sensory impairment teacher, the chance to do something in the field, to have a positive impact for deafblind children, had a great appeal.”

She added: “Ultimately, we’re hoping to co-create, with deafblind children and young people, an intervention that will raise awareness of deafblindness amongst teachers and peers.”

The Care Act (2014) includes legal obligations for supporting deafblind adults, but does not cover children or young people under the age of 25.

It is estimated that there are nearly 400,000 people living with deafblindness in the UK. This number is expected to rise to 600,000 by 2023, Deafblind UK said.

In 2023, the charity created its ‘Lesson in a Box’ resource, which was designed to help teachers, students and support staff understand more about the impact of sensory loss.

The box, which includes assembly and lesson notes relating to the national curriculum, has been distributed to over 1600 schools.

Deafblind UK also has teaching resources available for free via its website.

Nikki Morris, Deafblind UK’s chief executive, said: “We know that lots of young people are affected by deafblindness, but we also know that with the right support, they can achieve. This research will determine the prevalence and impact that sight and hearing loss has on young lives.”

Morris added: “As the UK’s specialist deafblindness charity, it is vital that we lead the way in support for young people. We have already learned so much from this project, and we are proud to be able to enhance our offering to children affected by deafblindness.

“One of our strategic objectives is to support children and young people in all aspects of their lives. Over the next year, we will be developing a new pathway to enable us to deliver that support. It is an exciting time.”