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About Us

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NYDBC (New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative)

Value and Mission Statements

Value Statement

The New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative (NYDBC) believes that all individuals, including those who are deaf-blind, have the right to lead a full and rewarding life. All individuals should have access to the necessary skills and supports that provide them with the opportunity to do so.

Mission Statement

The mission of the New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative (NYDBC) is to achieve measurable improvements in the quality of life for deaf-blind children and youth throughout New York State. NYDBC will do so through the provision of needs-based technical assistance, training, and support to key agencies, personnel, and families. These initiatives will lead to an enhanced service delivery system, one providing quality, person-centered services responsive to the unique needs of children and youth who are deaf-blind.


What is deaf-blindness?

Deaf-blindness refers to a combined hearing and vision impairment, often referred to as a dual sensory loss. The degree of loss for each sense can vary significantly, thus affecting individuals' life experience in unique ways.

Individuals who are deaf-blind do not have to be completely deaf or completely blind to qualify for services. In fact, a child or young adult may have very usable residual vision or hearing but, with the combined sensory losses, functions in a way that is developmentally different from that of hearing/sighted people. Individuals who are considered deaf-blind represent an extremely diverse population. The range of hearing and vision loss per individual can vary significantly. While one student’s primary disability may be profound deafness, another student’s primary disability may be vision loss. Regardless of the leading issue, the determining factor in receiving technical assistance from NYDBC is the combination of both a hearing and vision impairment.

NYDBC operates under the federal definitions for school age and early intervention in its identification of children who are deaf-blind.

Special Education (Ages 3-21) Federal Definition

Deaf-blindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness. 34 CFR 300.8 (c) (2)

Early Intervention (Ages 0-3) Federal Definition

Infants and toddlers with disabilities means individuals from birth through age two who need early intervention services because they are experiencing developmental delays, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: cognitive development, physical development including vision and hearing, communication development, social or emotional development, adaptive development, have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay or who are at risk of having substantial developmental delays if early intervention services are not provided. 34 CFR 303.16

Whom we serve

  • NYDBC is a statewide project that provides technical assistance to professionals and families on behalf of children and young adults who are deaf-blind between the ages of 0–21.
  • The project is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) through the CUNY Research Foundation and is housed at Queens College in Flushing, NY. Any and all interested parties in New York State can access NYDBC, free of charge, as a resource on deaf-blindness.
New York state map

What ages do we serve?

Early intervention (0–3): NYDBC works with early invention providers and systems to ensure that children are appropriately identified, and that families who have a child with hearing and vision loss are receiving the services that meet the specialized developmental needs of their child by:

  • Increasing the knowledge and skills of the family and providers.
  • Connecting parents and providers with information and each other for mutual support.

Pre-school (3–5): NYDBC provides technical assistance to early childhood programs to support the development of transdisciplinary programs that meet the specialized developmental needs of children who are deaf-blind, while continuing to support families to do so at home. Critical areas include:

  • Communication and language development.
  • Social and conceptual development.
  • Planning for the transition to school-age programs.

School-age (6–13): NYDBC provides technical assistance to professionals and families to develop knowledge and skills which will lead to better educational outcomes for students who are deaf-blind. The technical assistance may be centered on an individual child or may address the development of a program to serve multiple children.

Transition (14–21): NYDBC can provide critical information and support to transition-age young adults as they, their families, and educators begin to conduct long-range planning for the individual. Transitioning from school to work and from school to the adult community should be planned comprehensively and be transdisciplinary in nature.

Whom do we serve?

Professionals: NYDBC provides technical assistance to educators, administrators and related service providers through a multitiered TA delivery model (see Services). The type and level of intensity of TA will vary significantly depending on the needs of the professional(s) and their desired level of commitment to the process.

Families: NYDBC provides information, support, resources, training, networking opportunities, and family-to-family linkages to family members of children who are deaf-blind with the expressed goal of increasing a family’s knowledge of and involvement in their child’s education.

Consumers: NYDBC acts as a resource to assist individuals who are deaf-blind in being connected to the appropriate resources within their local community. Peer-to-peer connections and linkages to adult service agencies, for example, are critical, particularly for young adults who are deaf-blind.


The NYDBC team comprises a principal investigator, project director, project coordinator, family specialist, and administrative assistant. Each key staff person has been working in the field of deaf-blindness for over a dozen years, and in some cases, for almost two decades. Each staff member person has a unique perspective on deaf-blindness.

Patricia Rachal, Principal Investigator: Patricia Rachal has provided consultation in over 25 states throughout the country on interagency collaboration, team-building, effective communication skills, systems-change strategies, and transition planning for young adults who are deaf-blind. She has served as a consultant to two national deaf-blind technical assistance grants and to Helen Keller National Center. She has published on topics in deaf-blindness throughout her tenure of more than 20 years in the field.
Email: Phone: 718-997-5470

Susanne Morgan Morrow, Director: Susanne Morgan Morrow is a nationally certified sign language interpreter and transition specialist. Her work has focused on creating linkages between the interpreting, deaf and deaf-blind communities through her role as the chairperson to various national organizations and committees. Previously, as a transition specialist with the national deaf-blind project, she addressed topics such as self-determination, advocacy, and transition planning for young adults who are deaf-blind.
Email: Phone: 718-997-4854

Eneida Lamberty, Administrative Assistant: The latest team member to join the deaf-blind field, Eneida Lamberty assists the project staff in outreach and internal organization. Lamberty is bilingual, and her Spanish language skills are extremely helpful in communicating with many of our families throughout the state.
Email: Phone: 718-997-4856

Advisory Board

NYDBC maintains an advisory board to assist staff members in critiquing and validating project activities and procedures; its input is a critical component in reflecting on and improving project practices and therefore outcomes. The board is made up of individuals who have expertise in deaf-blindness or work for key state and local agencies that provide services to children and youth who are deaf-blind.

Gerry Bateman
Professor, Secondary Education of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, Rochester Institute of Technology
Karen Gourkey
Director, Computer Center for Visually Impaired People, Baruch College
Sonia Hartmann
Parent; president, New York Parent Network; bilingual special education teacher
Bernadette Kappen
Superintendent, New York Institute for Special Education
Maricar Marquez
Consumer; senior instructor, Communication Learning Center, Helen Keller National Center
Ellen McHugh
Assistant director, Parent to Parent of New York State
Kathy McNulty
Associate director, National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness
Jamie Pope
Consumer; executive director, American Association of the Deaf-Blind
Molly Rimer
Regional representative, Helen Keller National Center
Rosanne Silberman
Professor, Hunter College CUNY
Frank Simpson
Superintendent, Lavelle School for the Blind
Sheri Stanger
Parent; past president and advisor, National Family Association of Deaf-Blind
Leonardo Villanueva

Project Goals and Activities

OBJECTIVE #1: Conduct ongoing identification and needs assessment activities to provide technical assistance and training that are driven by the demographics of the population and the needs of the stakeholders.

OBJECTIVE #2: To provide ongoing technical assistance and disseminate evidence-based products and materials through a multitiered TA delivery model.

OBJECTIVE #3: To augment the knowledge and skills of stakeholders through the delivery of pre-service and in-service training.

OBJECTIVE #4: To enhance local capacity and to produce systems improvement/change through leadership and coordinated activities.

OBJECTIVE #5: To create and deliver products and information to statewide stakeholders that reflects evidence-based research and needs assessment data.

OBJECTIVE #6: To analyze formative and summative data collected from relevant stakeholders and grant activities in order to support a continuous improvement process through ongoing needs assessment, the tracking of project efforts through goal attainment scaling (GAS), consultation with the NYDBC Advisory Board, pre- and post-tests of TA and training activity, and case studies on a select number of individuals.


It is critical that NYDBC create partnerships with various state agencies, higher education institutions, professional organizations, and parent and consumer organizations.

Other collaborating organizations and agencies:

American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB): The only national organization run for, by, and of deaf-blind individuals. It is a social networking and advocacy organization that provides information, resources and linkages to deaf-blind people and interested parties across the country.

Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH): The Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped provides supportive and rehabilitation services, and materials/equipment to individuals of all ages who are legally blind.

Hunter College, CUNY: NYDBC staff members teach courses within the master's program for special education, including classes in deaf-blindness and severe disabilities. Student teachers have opportunities to participate in NYDBC-sponsored activities. NYDBC also offers a limited number of stipends to professionals to take an online course through Hunter.

National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB): The federal technical assistance project established specifically for supporting the state projects that serve deaf-blind children and young adults between the ages of 0 – 21.

National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting (NTFDBI): A national partnership between the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC), the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), and the American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB) focused on interpreter education and preparedness of interpreters skilled in working with individuals who are deaf-blind.

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind Member Section (RID DBMS): A group of interpreter practitioners and educators interested in providing adequate interpreting services to individuals who are deaf-blind.

Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID):
VESID oversees all educational and rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities in New York State. The Department of Special Education as well as rehabilitation services for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing are part of VESID.

New York State Department of Health Early Intervention Program
The New York State Early Intervention program is administered by the state's Department of Health, which approves service providers, sets policy and regulations, and offers professional development and support for early intervention providers. Early intervention services are provided on the county level.

Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
The Commission for the Blind provides supportive and rehabilitation services and materials/equipment to individuals who are legally blind of all ages.


 Office Information

Queens College
65-30 Kissena Blvd, KP 325
Queens, New York 11367
Phone: 718-997-4856
Fax: 718-997-4883


Mailing Address:
65-30 Kissena Blvd, PH 200
Queens, NY 11367

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