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Definition in State Rule: Deafblind

Deafblind means concomitantly deaf or hard of hearing and blind or visually impaired, the combination of which causes severe communication and other developmental and educational needs such that the individual disability-related needs of the student extend beyond the instruction and supports required for a student who is solely deaf or hard of hearing or blind or visually impaired. PI 11.36 (4m), Wis. Admin. Code

Incidence and Disproportionality


In the 2022-2023 school year, 152 students of total public school enrollment (822,804 students) were identified as deafblind on the Wisconsin Deafblind Technical Assistance Project child count. The 152 deafblind students made up 0.1% of all students with IEPs (122,187). Deafblindness was not included as a disability category in Wisconsin state statute until 2021. In Wisconsin, IEP teams are not required to identify secondary or tertiary impairment areas and are only required to submit a “reporting” disability and may also report an “other” disability category. Thus the number of students identified as having an “other” disability category of deafblind is not reflected in this data.  Data reported by districts found within the public WISEdash portal underreports the incidence of students who are deafblind. Therefore the Wisconsin Deafblind Technical Assistant Project child count is currently the most accurate data. To view additional data including district level information, go to the Wisconsin DPI public WISEdash portal.


In Wisconsin, like many other states, we see district data demonstrating race-based patterns of identification for some criteria areas compared to others. Although districts rarely demonstrate these patterns in the area of deafblindness, as an equity issue, we strongly encourage all districts to disaggregate their special education data to ensure evaluation practices and procedures are culturally responsive and address bias when conducting and analyzing assessments used to make eligibility decisions. Go to the DPI Culturally Responsive Problem Solving web page for more information. 

Deafblind Criteria

Deafblind Criteria

§300.304 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outlines two purposes of special education evaluations (i) Whether the child is a child with a disability; and (ii) The content of the child’s IEP, including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum (or for a preschool child, to participate in appropriate activities). The disability category criteria IEP forms only assist IEP teams with (i) and are not sufficient in completing an evaluation and developing a student’s IEP. To ensure compliance with implementing a full, individual, and comprehensive evaluation, go to the Wisconsin DPI Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation web page.

Worksheets and Guidelines

Other Special Education Resources

We encourage you to sign up for our email list. Directions on how to sign up can be found on the DPI email lists web page. Scroll down to Special Education and click on “collabsupportlist." For information specific to the needs of deafblind students such as updates, events, and quarterly newsletter for families and professionals sign up to the WDBTAP email list.