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Hearing impairment and multi sensory impairment

What is a hearing impairment?

The speech and language therapist has a central role in providing individualised assessment, diagnosis and intervention to the child in partnership with his/her family. This should reflect the choices the family have made, regarding communication mode and habilitation approach.

People with multi-sensory impairment (MSI) have a combination of hearing and vision impairments. Most MSI people will have some useful vision and hearing; however there are some who are completely deaf and blind.

There are a number of terms used to describe MSI including:

  • Deafblind
  • Dual-sensory impaired
  • Dual sensory loss

These can be used interchangeably, denoting the fact that combined losses of sight and hearing are significant for the individual, even where they are not profoundly deaf and totally blind.

Not all people with MSI identify as being deafblind. They may identify as deaf people who can’t see very well, physically disabled people who can’t see or hear very well, or as older people who can’t see or hear as well as they used to.

Lots of our information has been taken from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RSCLT) website –

Deafblind International
Kentalis – a national organisation in the Netherlands, specialising in providing diagnostic, care and educational services to people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind
National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP)
National Center on Deaf-Blindness (Formerly DB Link)
Perkins – a progressive, multi-faceted organisation committed to improving the lives of people with blindness and deafblindness all around the world
Scottish Sensory Centre
Sense – for children and adults who are deafblind, or have sensory impairments
Sense Scotland

Hearing Impairment resources 

National Deaf Children’s Society:

British Sign language:

The local support offered by Devon County Council:

Multi-sensory impairment resources 

Sense: Support for children with multi-sensory impairments:

Devon County Council: SEND advice and guidance on multi-sensory impairment:

Devon Education Services:

Early Support for children, young people and families- Information about
multi-sensory impairment: