Professional resources

Deafblind Glossary

Calendar Systems

TSVBI Calendar System

Calendar systems provide a structured way in which to refer to events in a child's day. Sometimes called "Anticipation Boxes" or "Object Calendars", a series of meaningful symbols are arranged in sequential order to let the child know what will happen next. Calendars also provide a way to make clear the beginning, middle, and end of an activity, as well as time concepts, such as before, after, later, and now.

Concept Development

TSVBI Concept System

Concept development refers to the basic understanding that is necessary to make sense of one's world. This includes ideas about the self and others, objects, and the environment. This foundational understanding is crucial to communication, travel, and independence. While typical children usually develop an understanding of basic concepts through incidental learning, children with a combined vision and hearing loss must often be taught these same concepts through repeated exposure in an intentional manner.


Federal Definition: Deaf-blindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness. 34 CFR 300.8 (c) (2)

For infants and toddlers receiving Part C early intervention services: Concomitant hearing and vision impairments or delays, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and intervention needs that specialized early intervention services are needed.

Functional Vision

Involves 4 basic visual skills that are necessary for learning through vision. They are tracking, focusing, eye teaming, and visual processing. A student’s functional vision can be determined through a Functional Vision Assessment conducted by a teacher for the visually impaired. A functional vision assessment (FVA) is an evaluation of the day-to-day visual skills of an individual who is visually impaired. A Functional Vision Assessment is a legally required document. The purpose of the Functional Vision Assessment is to supplement the results of the clinical eye exam with descriptions of the student's observable behaviors that may relate to vision. Unlike a clinical eye exam, the purpose of an FVA is not to diagnose a medical condition or to prescribe a therapeutic treatment such as patching, surgery, or medication, but is to determine how the students vision impacts their education. This includes what material and instructional adaptations are necessary, and areas in which the student will need to receive instruction.

Mutual Tactile Attention

Mutual Tactile Attention (PDF)

Mutual tactile attention involves joint attention and sharing an activity or object through non-controlling mutual touch.

Prelinguistic Milieu Teaching

Teaching PMT (PDF)

Prelinguistic communication may be unintentional or intentional. In PMT, an instructor working one-on-one with a child uses a combination of strategies to encourage and teach him or her to use gestures and vocalizations to communicate.  Initial behaviors are shaped and encouraged to create more communication and more standard communication.

Tactile signing

A common means of communication used by
people with deafblindness. It is based on a sign language or another system of manual communication. "Tactile signing" refers to the mode or medium, i.e. signing, using touch.


Touch for the sole purpose of communication. Pro-tactile is a method of tactile communication that allows an individual who is deafblind to have more reliable information about the visual elements of their environment by giving one another tactile feedback by tapping on each other's legs, and hands, and shoulders, and arms.

Object Communication

Perkins Object Symbols

Objects are used to represent activities, places, and people.  Examples of these objects include:  textures (i.e, piece of carpet, blanket, wood, plastic), miniatures, pieces of the real object, and objects that are exactly the same as those being used.  The student uses these objects for getting information about the activities, people, and places around him, making choices, and/or telling others his message.

Functional Hearing

Informal Functional Hearing Evaluation (PDF)

Functional Hearing refers to the way in which an individual uses whatever hearing he or she has.

Useful resources and contacts for families

Family Fun Facts on Facebook

National Family Association for the Deaf-blind

NCDB Families Matter Stories

Open Hands Open Access:  Deafblind Intervener Modules