Children with Multiple Disabilities and Vision Impairment (MDVI)

A brief look into what MDVI means and the statistics Perkins India utilizes on children with MDVI.

A girl sits at an adapted desk, reading an activity book with the assistance of her teacher sitting behind her.

Who are children with MDVI?

Children with Multiple Disabilities and Vision Impairment (MDVI) have a vision impairment and at least one other disability, which could be cognitive, developmental, and hearing- or mobility-related. Many of these children face challenges with communication, social interactions, movement, and independent living skills. Interventions that might typically work for a child who has one disability don’t necessarily work for children with MDVI because each disability has a compounding effect. 

Children with MDVI might communicate in ways that are different from other people — a child might use nonverbal communication or sign language. They may not process visual cues to understand their surroundings the way someone with typical vision does. These circumstances require special adaptations of environment and teaching interventions so children are able to learn about the world around them.

A mother helps her young daughter drink from a cup.
A boy colors, sitting with his face very close to the paper.

How many Children with Multiple Disabilities and Vision Impairment (MDVI) are there in India?

2011 Census

The 2011 India Census reports incidences of disability in eight categories, including multiple disabilities. Based on Perkins’ experience and other sources [1] [2] [3], we estimate that 70% of those with multiple disabilities have a vision impairment as one of their disabilities, indicating they have MDVI. This would leave us with 474,909 children (ages 0-19) with MDVI according to the 2011 Census. 

However, experts argue that actual numbers of persons with disabilities are much higher compared to the 2011 census results [2] [4] [5]. Using Perkins International global estimates, we believe there may be as many as 949,329 children (ages 0-19) with MDVI, almost double what might be indicated by the census! 

Educators make notes on paper during a screening session with a child, who holds a red ball before a woman’s hand.

How does Perkins International count the number of children with MDVI globally? 

Globally, Perkins International estimates there to be 6 million children and young adults (ages 0-24) with MDVI. This estimate is based on the World Health Organization’s Global data on visual impairment: 2010, which indicates the number of children with vision impairment that is not easily diagnosed and corrected. It is understood by experts in the field that about half of children with uncorrected vision impairment have an additional disability [6]. Using this information, we can deduce a prevalence rate and apply it to global population data. 

When applying the prevalence rate to the same 2011 population data, it comes to 949,329 children (ages 0-19) with MDVI in India – rounded up to 1 million children. 

How will we ever know the truth? 

We know, it’s complicated! We have done our due diligence to ground estimates in reliable data and logical assumptions to the extent possible, but acknowledge that they are imperfect extrapolations. 

To come to a clearer understanding of the actual number of children with MDVI, we look forward to finding, documenting, and counting children with MDVI through our work of identification and intervention. As we systematically count children with MDVI and collect data, we’ll compare our results to the 2011 benchmark data to see how it compares.


[1]  FamilyConnect. (2019). Children with Multiple Disabilities Need the Expanded Core Curriculum, Too! Retrieved from

[2]  Arora NK, Nair MKC, Gulati S, Deshmukh V, Mohapatra A, Mishra D, et al. (2018). Neurodevelopmental disorders in children aged 2–9 years: Population-based burden estimates across five regions in India. PLoS Med, 15(7): e1002615. Retrieved from

[3]  Van Den Broek, E. G. C., Janssen, C. G. C., Van Ramshorst, T., Deen,  L. (2006). Visual impairments in people with severe and profound multiple disabilities: an inventory of visual functioning. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50(6). 470-475. Retrieved from

[4]  Palmer, M., Harley, D. (2012). Models and measurement in disability: an international review. Health Policy and Planning, 27(5). 357-364. Retrieved from

[5]  Saikia, N., Bora, J. K., Jasilionis, D., Shkolnikov V. M. (2016). Disability Divides in India: Evidence from the 2011 Census. PLOS ONE, 11(8). Retrieved from

[6]  Zambone, A. M., Ciner, E., Appel, S., Graboyes, M. (2000). Children with Multiple Impairments In B. Silverstone, M. A. Lang, B. P. Rosenthal, E. E. Faye (Vol. 1), The Lighthouse Handbook on Vision Impairment and Vision Rehabilitation (pp. 451-468). New York, NY: Oxford university Press.

Girl sits smiling in a wheelchair

Creating health and education access with IndusInd Bank

Mother and father stand behind their son who sits in a wheelchair

A wheely deal for Rishab

Sakshi explores different textures in a bowl of rice along with her teacher.

“We are so happy she can learn.”