Question #3
Is there a vision screening for infants and toddlers at risk for this dual sensory impairment?



        Bailey, B. R., Downing, J. (1993). Helping young children with visual impairments make use of their vision. Terre Haute, IN.: Indiana State University Press.

        DB-LINK,(1999, June 30). The National Information Clearinghouse on Children Who Are Deaf-Blind. [Online]. Available.

        Baraldi, P., Ferrari, B., Fonda, S., & Penne, A. (1981). Vision in the neonate(full term and premature): Preliminary result of the application of some testing methods. Documenta Opthalmologica, 51, 101-112.

        Fantz, R. (1963). Pattern vision in newborn infants. Science, 140, 296-297.

        Goetz, L., & Gee, K. (1987). Innovative program design for individuals with dual sensory impairments. Baltimore, MD.: Brookes Pub.

        Hanson, M. (1988). Beyond tracking: Enhancing vision development from birth to one year of age. Justice, IL: Vision Unlimited.

        Langley, M. (1980). Functional vision inventory for the multiple and severely handicapped. Chicago, IL.: Stoelting Pub.

        Sailor, W., Utley, B., Goetz, L., Gee, K., & Baldwin, M., (1982). Vision assessment and program manual for severely handicapped and/or deaf-blind students. Washington, DC.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

        Teller, D., McDonald, M., Preston, K., Sebris, S., & Dobson, V. (1986). Assessment of visual acuity in infants and children: The acuity card procedure. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 28, 779-789.

Synthesis of Information

A vision screening is often used to determine if a visual problem exists. Unless an infant is born prematurely with the risk of Retinopathy of Prematurity, or with a recognized syndrome, a vision screening is not done. A parent and/or a pediatrician must request a complete eye exam, done by a Pediatric Optomologist.

There are many ways to test a child’s vision. The method that is used depends on several things:

A child who might not respond to conventional testing may be a candidate for several physiological test that focus on visual acuity. The formal tests listed below should be administered by clinical or medical personnel: Listed below are several functional vision assessments. These functional tests assess the visual behavior of the person rather than just the physiological condition of the eyes: Visual assessment and subsequent intervention are critical for these reasons: Parents are often the first ones to detect if their child has a visual problem. If a parent and/or a childcare worker observe any behavior that suggests the child is adapting for a lack of vision, they should have the child’s vision thoroughly examined.

Below, is a comprehensive list of physical characteristics and behaviors for parents and/or childcare workers, that may represent a child’s visual problem, (Bailey & Downing, 1993):

Parents, teachers, or childcare professionals can use The Vision Development Checklist as a general guideline for assessing an infant’s visual development. Although not all infants will develop visual skills at the same rate, failure to reach the major visual milestones within two to three months of those listed in The Vision Development Checklist is reason for the infant to have a professional eye exam.

A child is never too young to have his eyes examined. Modern technology makes it possible for eye doctors to complete an examination on a child too young to read. After talking with Pediatric Opthamologists and Optometrists, the consensus was that besides an examination of the eyes at birth for signs of congenital eye problems, a universal screening should be done on infants at least 6 months of age. Unfortunately, these examinations are costly, and until a government mandate exists, will not be done for every child.

To provide appropriate and crucial intervention services to infants with dual sensory impairments and their families, it is vital that the identification process be improved. Firm connections should be established within the medical community such as obstetricians, neonatologists, and pediatricians to promote and facilitate the identification process. Agencies should proactively assist families in finding appropriate services for their children at risk.

Classroom and homebound teachers need to be trained on how to interpret the results of both clinical and functional assessments in order to develop a comprehensive intervention program. It is also crucial that supplemental information and instruction be available for teachers and/or childcare givers in order to determine the best methods for helping children acquire functional sensory skills to become more independent.

The importance of early intervention for children with handicapping conditions has been well documented. When infants have two or more handicapping conditions, such as deaf-blindness, the need for early intervention is greater.


        Huebner, K. M., Prickett, J. G., Welch, T. R., & Joffee, E. (1995). Hand in hand: Essentials of Communication and Orientation and Mobility for your students who are deaf-blind. N.Y., N. Y.: AFB Press

        McInnes, J. M. (1982). Deaf-blind infants and children: A developmental guide. Toronto, Ont.: University of Toronto Press

        NTAC, (1999, June 30). The National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults who are Deafblind. [Online]. Available:

        SKI*HI Institute. (1993). A resource manual for understanding and interacting with infants, toddlers, and preschool age children with deaf-blindness. Logan, U.T.: H.O.P.E., Inc.


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