Introduction to DeafBlind

Working with Individuals Who Are DeafBlind: A Course for Mental Health Professionals

A woman and girl doing tactile sign

Introduction to Course

This course provides mental health professionals with information and
resources that will help them assist individuals who are DeafBlind and
their support network as they adjust to a dual sensory loss and the
impact it has on their life including change of identity, role in the
family, communication and social interactions. Their support network may
include members of their family, friends, the community, and their
coworkers. Strategies and helpful tips will be illustrated throughout
this course.

The course is divided into the following 4 modules.

  • Rapport Building and Positive Connections: The Role of the Mental Health Professional
  • Introduction to DeafBlindness and Etiologies
  • Communicating with Individuals who are DeafBlind
  • Possible Psychological Implications of DeafBlindness

Throughout this training series, we use the term DeafBlind to
refer to a diverse population of individuals with varying degrees of
combined vision and hearing loss. Helen Keller National Center has
historically followed the guidelines that the consumer organization,
American Association of the DeafBlind (AADB) established by using the
term “DeafBlind.” Recently, AADB changed its use of the term to
“DeafBlind.” HKNC is a federally funded agency authorized by the US
Congress and, therefore, does not have the authority to change their use
of the term DeafBlind to DeafBlind. HKNC recognizes the value behind
the term DeafBlind, that each person’s experience is unique and includes
much more than his or her vision and hearing loss. HKNC continues to
align its philosophy and services with this meaning and recognizes the
community’s preference for the term DeafBlind. HKNC continues to work
with federal authorities to change the term from DeafBlind to

Introduction to Course: Bryen Yunashko

Video image description: A closeup of a man signing into the camera.

Hello! My name is Bryen and I am DeafBlind. In a professional capacity, I have worked with various groups of DeafBlind individuals. I also receive services from a mental health professional.

Through my experience of working and being a part of the DeafBlind community I have come to learn that you have to approach each person as a unique individual. As mental health professionals, this program will teach you how to interact with DeafBlind clients and what resources are available for you and your clients.

Often, DeafBlind people live in isolation. As these individuals face difficult situations they frequently don’t have anyone to process with or turn to. This can cause frustrations and difficulties to build up within the person.

This makes your role as a mental health professional all the more important. You will be there to listen and the one they turn to. This program will teach you how to both listen and respond to DeafBlind individuals.  It will also teach you how to find salient resources, the different roles that families can play in the life of an individual who is DeafBlind, how their cultural identity comes into play, why the onset of their vision and hearing matter, and other various factors that may impact a DeafBlind person’s life.

It’s crucial that mental health professionals really understand that the DeafBlind population is unlike any other population. There are so many factors that can affect their mental health and your work with them. We hope you enjoy the program. [End of Transcript]

NASW CE Hours: 4.0
CRC CE Hours: 4.0

Modules Included

Rapport Building and Positive Connections: The Role of the Mental Health Professional

A Unique Counseling Situation

Re-establishing Personal Identity

Strategies for Building a Productive and Trusting Relationship

Establishing an Appropriate Therapy Model

Facilitating Family and Community Supports

Sharing of Self


Module 1 Quiz

Additional Courses