Deafblind Program

A woman and young girl speak to each other through sign language.

Contact

Barbara Mason 
Education Director, Deafblind Program
Deafblind@Perkins.org
617-972-7500

 

The Deafblind Program is built on a tradition of success that began at Perkins as early as 1837 with the admission of Laura Bridgman, and later with Helen Keller in 1886 -- two of the first individuals who were deafblind to be formally educated. Today, our program continues to be one of the few worldwide dedicated specifically to working with students with deafblindness.

We offer comprehensive educational services to students age 3 to 22 who are deafblind or deaf with additional disabilities, taking a developmental approach to language, communication and curriculum. Many students also participate in our residential program, which enhances their overall educational experience and reinforces learning through consistency.

Enrollment options

We offer enrollment options for both day and residential students designed to support each individual student's abilities and goals. Options include academic programs that can lead to a high school diploma for eligible students or a certificate of accomplishment, and a comprehensive vocational and transitional program for students beginning at age 14.

Curriculum

Our curriculum options are highly individualized and represent a continuum of educational services. Options include:

  • Preschool, a curriculum for children ages 3 through 6, which focuses on development of early language and communication, as well as play and cognitive development, using multisensory materials and sensory integration. 
  • Early Academics, designed for young children ages 6 through 12, which focuses on cognition and early academic skills, encourages play skills in small group settings and emphasizes social and behavioral skills.
  • Academic, offered for students ages 6 through 22, which includes a full range of subjects including English language arts, math, science and social studies, as well as language and communication. We also focus on Expanded Core Curriculum subjects such as independent living skills and vocational training.
  • Functional Academic and Life Skills, a program for ages 12 through 22 that focuses on preparing every student for the transition to adult life using the classroom and community to teach skills. Instruction includes reading, writing, time and money skills, cooking and grocery shopping, as well as life skills such as following a sequence or a routine, personal care and organizational skills.

Focus on Communication

Committed to exploring the endless ways students who are deafblind can connect with the world around them, this program incorporates a Total Communication environment, where any and every means of communication that works best for each student is taught and encouraged. This approach helps us meet each student at his or her own level of communicative ability, and may include any or all of the following:

  • Sign and spoken language
  • Written language
  • Braille
  • Pictures
  • Objects
  • Gestures
  • Other low and high tech augmentative communication systems

A Creative Approach to Learning

Learning within natural environments is critical for children with deafblindness, from cooking in the kitchen to shopping at the local grocery store, planting flowers in the greenhouse, working in a cafeteria, or learning about cause and effect concepts in computer class. Activities are structured to meet the individual student's language and communication needs and incorporate the curriculum content into the activity.

Specialized staff

Our experienced staff has specialized training in educating and working with students with deafblindness. Our staff's specialties include:

Clinical

  • Audiology
  • Behavior consultation
  • Health services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Sensory motor integration
  • Social work
  • Speech and language
  • School psychology

Support

  • Orientation and mobility
  • Adaptive physical education
  • Low vision
  • Computer technology
  • Assistive technology
  • Vocational training
  • Transition services
  • Residential services