Published online May 28, 2015. doi: 10.5319/wjo.v5.i2.37
Peer-review started: December 30, 2014
First decision: February 7, 2015
Revised: February 24, 2015
Accepted: April 1, 2015
Article in press: April 7, 2015
Published online: May 28, 2015
Deafblindness is more than the addition of hearing impairment plus vision impairment. The absence or impairment of both distance senses gives a condition which is more disabling than the sum of each. Deafblindness is rare among young people but becomes frequent at higher ages. Deafblindness can be either congenital or acquired. The heterogeneity of the population has been reported to be huge. Different levels of vision and hearing loss, different use of language modality, different kinds and severity of additional disabilities, and different medical aetiology are some of the variables splitting the group. Research in deafblindness is still in it is advent due to a number of limitations and a lack of current scientific interest. Some of the challenges in deafblindness research are: lack of consensus on the definition of deafblindness; rareness of the condition which makes it difficult to even gather just a small group to study; heterogeneity of the population; difficulties with using traditional functional assessment procedures; communication barriers; and the difficulties of interpretation of deafblind behavior. This editorial calls for more interest in deafblindness in general and for more international cooperation and innovative studies to overcome existing barriers: Cooperation on data collection to form big enough sample sizes; development of reliable and valid tests and assessment tools; development of new research methods and approaches.
Core tip: Research in deafblindness may have the potential to generate knowledge about several basic questions: How sensory loss affects human development such as mental wellbeing, language development, and cognition. The nature of tactile language and tactile perception. How medical genetics are linked to combined vision and hearing loss. However, research in deafblindness is still in it is advent due to a number of limitations and a lack of current scientific interest. This editorial calls for more interest in deafblindness in general and for more international cooperation and innovative studies to overcome existing barriers.