Defining Deafblindness

By signing the declaration you are adding you/your organisation’s support calling on the Scottish Government to formally recognise deafblindness as a distinct disability in Scotland.

Will you and your organisation support this momentous moment for deafblind people in Scotland?

Excerpt from Cross Party Group – Defining Deafblindness Paper

“As previously set out Scotland does not have a definition of deafblindness that is either agreed by clinicians or a social model definition of deafblindness that has legal support. In this absence those working with people who have a dual sensory loss tend to default to the Nordic definition of deafblindness as this has been adopted by the World Federation of Deafblindness and the World Health Organisation. This definition is based on the social model of disability. However, it is important to note that in the absence of an agreed clinical threshold we have not seen the development of clinical specialities such as can be seen in other areas of complex disability.”

Communications Pack

Currently in Scotland there is no recognition of Deafblindness as a distinct disability. The other UK nations, many European countries and the World Health Organisation all recognise that acquiring a second sensory loss has a profound impact on the lives of those affected. Without recognition of this complex disability there has been little development of specialist services and many people affected are not identified until it is too late to acquire alternative communication such as Tactile BSL. 

Deafblind Scotland, the national charity focused on dual sensory loss has been working with the Cross-part Group on Deafness to create a Declaration calling for the Nordic definition of Deafblindness to be adopted in Scotland. 

This definition is that:

Deafblindness is a combined vision and hearing impairment of such severity that it is hard for the impaired senses to compensate for each other. Thus, deafblindness is a distinct disability.  

To varying degrees, deafblindness limits activities and restricts full participation in society. It affects social life, communication, access to information, orientation and the ability to move around freely and safely. To help compensate for the combined vision and hearing impairment, especially the tactile sense becomes important. 


Once this Declaration is finalised, we are hoping that there will be a members debate in the Parliament. We already have strong support from Annabelle Ewing MSP who co-chairs the working group that are charged with creating this declaration and Rona MacKay MSP who is a long time supporter of the work of Deafblind Scotland. 

Seen and Heard:  An outline of the need to define deafblindness as a unique disability within Scotland

Click on the download button to read the full report with recommendations for good first steps on the road to making this recognition a reality.