First global report on deafblindness

The World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) has published the first ever global report on deafblindness in cooperation with Sense International, supported by the International Disability Alliance. 

A woman and child. The woman is guiding the child hand to a flower.

The report examines whether the rights of persons with deafblindness as recognised in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) are being met by governments across the world. Despite impressive achievements by individuals and specialist organisations, regrettably the report finds that overall the issues faced by persons with deafblindness have largely been ignored and persons with deafblindness are being ‘left behind’, contrary to the principle underpinning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read the full report

Key findings

The report shows that around 0.2% of the world’s population is living with severe deafblindness. Analysis of prevalence data also found that 2% o the world’s population lives with ‘milder forms’ of deafblindness.

The research found:

  • Persons with deafblindness are more likely to be poor compared to people with other types of disabilities and compared to persons without disabilities.
  • Families and households that include persons with deafblindness are more likely to be in the bottom 40% in terms of their socio-economic status.
  • Persons with deafblindness are ten times less likely to be employed than non-disabled people, and 30% less likely to be employed than persons with other types of disabilities.
  • Children with deafblindness are 17 times less likely to be in school than non-disabled children, and twice less likely to be in school compared to children with other types of disabilities.
  • Between 20-75% of persons with deafblindness have additional impairments.
  • There is a high prevalence of depression amongst persons with deafblindness, but low access to mental health services.
  • Children with deafblindness are less likely to live with both parents.
  • Persons with deafblindness are less likely to be married.
  • Persons with deafblindness report a low quality of life and experience restrictions in participating in a wide-range of activities.

Case studies in the report provide insights into what is possible when persons with deafblindness are listened to, have access to health, education and training, and are supported to participate fully in the life of their community.

Recommendations

A girl with her arm around a womanThe evidence contained in the report confirms there is a disability and development gap. While the adoption of the SDGs in 2015 demonstrated a growing momentum for change based on inclusion, concerns remain that national development efforts will continue to exclude persons with deafblindness.

Recommendations of the report are centred around seven key areas; pre-conditions for inclusion, social protection, education, health, work and employment, political participation and social participation. 

Report Methodology

Persons with deafblindness from across the world contributed to the report. The statistical research was led by a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

A child in a school uniform sitting next to an adultThe statistical research was led by a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The full report is based on prevalence estimates of deafblindness for 22 countries, in-depth analysis of 11 countries, an academic literature review, surveys and case studies. In total, over 97.6 million people were included across the 22 datasets. This represents the largest population-based analysis of deafblindness conducted to date and includes evidence from a variety of regions and country income groups.

Next steps

The WFDB, in coordination with Sense International, aims to publish follow up reports every four years until 2030, to monitor progress on realising the rights of persons with deafblindness according to both the CRPD and the SDGs.

Download the full report 

Dowload an accessible summary of the report

First published: Tuesday 13 November 2018
Last updated: Thursday 15 November 2018