Deaf–blind children can be isolated and disconnected from people and activities. Without individualized support, they cannot access visual and auditory information and often complete school unable to seek future education, employment, or independent living. Providing appropriate special education and related services for deaf–blind children poses unique challenges.

AER Journal: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness presents a special issue, Current Practices with Children Who Are Deaf-Blind, examining education practices and priorities for children who are deaf–blind. Articles in the issue address the history of educational services for this population, current student assessment practices, how teachers view their own capabilities to educate these students, and more. “Improved design and delivery of special education and related services for children who are deaf–blind” is a goal of this cumulative research.

A worldwide rubella epidemic in 1963–1965 was followed by the birth of many children with multiple disabilities, including deafness and blindness together. Programs initiated during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations created regional centers to meet the needs of these children. The 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act established that children previously excluded from public schools were entitled to an education, and special services should be made available locally. Yet today, 85% of school-age children who are deaf–blind are educated separately from their peers.

Deaf–blind children represent one of the lowest incidence and most diverse groups of learners who receive special educational services. States are cutting education budgets and focusing on the “big picture” of cost-benefit and efficiency, but this small population still needs attention. “High quality educational services to children who are deaf-blind require our continued dedication and passion for seeking and implementing effective practices through coordination with families and among professionals,” states Dr. Deborah Chen, the Guest Editor of this special issue.

With this special issue, the authors state a goal of promoting discourse, understanding, and solution-focused problem solving for what comes next in special education and services for deaf–blind children. The time is ripe to consider future educational needs and opportunities as education legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is coming under review for reauthorization.