Annual Child Count

All federally-funded State DeafBlind Projects are required to conduct an Annual Child Count / Census of students with combined hearing loss and visual impairment, in order to locate them and be able to offer training, consultation, and technical assistance to address their specialized needs.  Visit the National Center on DeafBlindness (NCDB) to view the annual report.

A parent, teacher, or related service provider can complete an Annual Child Count / Census form for a student thought to be eligible for services as a child/youth with combined hearing loss and visual impairment (DeafBlindness). Simply download and complete a copy of the CBSS Child Count Form and return it to Donna Riccobono at

Maintaining and reporting on accurate child count data matters. The data provides valuable information that is used to identify state technical assistance needs and activities, and that can help define areas in need of research and program development.


Our Joint Meeting from December 14, 2023, includes a discussion on the Annual Child Count. You are welcome to view the meeting by clicking the link:

Maryland and DC Annual Child Count / Census of Students With DeafBlindness

Please review the information below before completing an Annual Child Count form.

  1. All students meeting the federal or functional definitions should be reported on the census.

Federal Definition: The term “deafblind” means a child who has both auditory and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational problems that he/she cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for students with hearing impairments, visual impairments, or severe disabilities without supplemental assistance designed for these dual sensory impairments.

Functional Definition: Students who have hearing and vision challenges at the same time and their visual-auditory acuity cannot be determined using conventional measures; they require adaptations in both auditory and visual modes of instruction; or they do not respond to auditory or visual stimuli in their environment. If, in your professional opinion, a student appears to be functioning as if he/she has both vision and hearing challenges, please include him/her in the census.

  • Report all students with deafblindness known to you as of December 1. 

All students who meet the above definitions should be listed.

  • Complete a separate “New Student Registration / Child Count Form” for each student you are adding.
  • Make any edits or changes regarding students previously reported directly on the form listing the information you completed last year.
  • Return all forms – those for new students and those of students previously reported.
  • If you do not have any students who qualify under the above definitions, with consideration of the additional criteria, please send an email stating that there are no students who are deafblind in your county.
  • If you have questions regarding the Annual Child Count please contact Donna Riccobono, Project Director, Connections Beyond Sight and Sound, University of Maryland, at
  • Return completed forms to Donna Riccobono, Project Director
  • Scan / email forms to Donna at

Annual Child Count Definitions

CBSS Child Count Form

Annual Child Count FAQs

Q: What is the Annual Child Count / Census?

The State Deafblind Project conducts an annual count of all children from age birth to age 21 in Maryland and DC who have both vision and hearing challenges that impact access to their education, communication, and many other areas of development. All state deafblind projects that receive federal funding are required to complete an annual census.

Q: Why is the Annual Child Count so important?

Early identification of vision and hearing challenges is important because evidence-based strategies need to be implemented as soon as possible to help children learn about their worlds in alternative ways. Subsequently, very specific and individualized instructional strategies need to be developed for each child. If these strategies are utilized at home as well as in the educational setting, then this can mean a significant improvement in the quality of life for these children and youth. It is important for each state to be able to accurately count the number of children identified with vision and hearing challenges.

Q: What is meant by the term deafblind?

The federal definition (IDEA) of deafblind includes children and youth having auditory and visual impairments, the combination of which creates such severe communication and other developmental and learning needs that they cannot be appropriately educated without special education and related services, beyond those that would be provided solely for children with hearing impairments, visual impairments, or severe disabilities, to address their educational needs due to these concurrent disabilities.

The child does not have to be profoundly deaf and profoundly blind; in fact, the majority of those identified as deafblind have some degree of functional vision and hearing. Children who have been diagnosed with cortical visual impairment should also be included in the annual census.

Q: Does including a child on the Annual Child Count obligate a school to provide services such as; vision, hearing, and/or O&M?

Individualized services are determined by the education team during the IEP or IFSP meeting. The student does not need to be receiving services in the areas of hearing or vision to be added or to be eligible for the annual child count.

Q: My child has vision loss but does not receive vision services. Can he/she still be on the Child Count?

As long as vision and/or hearing impacts their access to education, they can be eligible to be included on the Annual Child Count and receive support from the CBSS.

Q: I think my child has vision loss, but it is not diagnosed yet. Can he/she still be on the Annual Child Count?

The child can be on our Annual Child Count under the category of “Further Testing Needed” for up to 1 year while the team works on getting a diagnosis. For that year, the family and team may receive support from CBSS.

Q: How is the information from the Annual Child Count used?

The information from the annual child count is used to track and monitor the incidence of deafblindness across the country as well as in each state. The information also helps each state plan for relevant training sessions for educators and families.

*All children diagnosed with progressive loss, such as Usher Syndrome are eligible to be added to the Annual Child Count*

*All children diagnosed with CHARGE Syndrome are also eligible to be added to the Annual Child Count*