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Overview of Deafblindness - Making Connections
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Making Connections

Child with parents

The people in a child's life have an enormous impact on growth and development. An important first step in meeting the needs of a child with deafblindness is to make connections with key individuals such as family members, neighbors, childcare staff, friends, etc. Involving these people in the planning process for the child is an effective way to build the relationships between school, family and the community.

Conferences or family meetings are opportunities to share information and discuss the child's progress. It is also a forum for the family and/or other key individuals to contribute information about the child from their perspective and to express their hopes and dreams for the child.

The McGill Action Planning System (MAPS) is a "futures planning" process that focuses on what the child can do, instead of on his/her weakness. MAPS allows key people in the child’s life, to learn more about the child in a setting and through a process that is less formal than an IEP or IFSP meeting. The information learned through the MAPS process, along with other assessment information is then used to develop the IEP/IFSP goals and objectives and to plan the child’s daily schedule.

The MAPS Process

Planning for the MAPS meeting: The facilitator includes a timeline for activities and the name of the person or persons responsible for completing each specific item or task.

Who attends the MAPS meeting: It is important that the MAPS process allows for the opportunity to include people other than those who are typically on the IEP/IFSP team (classroom teacher, instructional assistants, vision and hearing specialists, speech and language specialists, etc.). For example, this could include a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a sibling, a friend, a neighbor, or the pastor from the church. Having "other people" helps to balance out the group and allows for additional perspectives. Often a sibling may know something that even parents do not - especially about likes and dislikes.

picture of biographical map

At the MAPS meeting:
During the first part of the meeting, information is gathered and recorded. The facilitator leads the discussion by asking the family and others to describe the child.

1. Who is this person?
The family and others share historical and biographical information about the child (e.g. birth, health, changing school, moving, changing family dynamics). This should be a relaxed conversation that includes sharing observations and examples. Responses can be documented using words or a picture format like the one at right.

Record the responses so that they are visible to all. For example, you can tape chart paper to the wall and have a recorder use markers to record all ideas. This helps everyone see what is being discussed and makes it easier for all participants to provide input.

2. What are this person’s LIKES and DISLIKES?

The team share their knowledge of the child's likes and dislikes. This can include people, places, food and drink, objects, experiences, sensory stimuli, etc.





  • Pet dog
  • Grandma
  • Tickles
  • Vibrating toys
  • To be rocked
  • Grass
  • Sharing toys
  • Wearing shoes
  • Abrupt changes
  • Loud noises

3. What GIFTS and TALENTS does this person have?

The team share their knowledge about the child's gifts and talents. These can include physical, emotional, cognitive, artistic, and characteristics that the child possesses. Record the responses for all to see.

Gifts and Talents
  • Physically strong
  • Sense of humor
  • Patient
  • Curious
  • Optimist
  • Determined
  • Uses hearing
  • Enjoys learning
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Easy going
  • Persistant

4. What are your dreams and fears for the child?

The family is asked to share their dreams for the child. Their responses are recorded in a manner that all can see.

The family is then asked to share their fears or concerns for the child. These responses are also recorded.

  • learning sign language
  • having friends
  • walking independently
  • Unable to communicate with people outside the family
  • no friends or relationships
  • unable to care for himself

5. What are the child's needs?

Keeping in mind the input given by the family and others about the child, have the team identify specific needs that can be addressed. Using a form similar to the one shown, record the needs in the first column.

Child's needs What to do? Who will do it? When? (date/time)



6. What can the team do?

After identifying the child's needs, the team 1) develops goals to address these needs, 2) establishes a plan for what to do, 3) identifies who will complete the tasks, and 4) when the actions take place.

Child's needs/goal What to do? Who will do it? When? (date/time)
Communication - The child will interact with peers during classroom activities. The teacher, the assistant, and other children in the class will learn signs for the vocabulary the child knows and is in the process of learning. The teacher certified in the deaf and hard of hearing will create a notebook illustrating the vocabulary and demonstrate their use. The classroom staff and other classmates will use signs with the child. During snack time and free choice time.

Building strong home- Relationships

To build strong home-school relationships, and ensure that parents are to work as partners, we should:

We could also encourage parents and families to be IN the school, to participate in school activities - especially in decision-making (school committees, board members). Parents can be trained as school volunteers or asked to share their expertise with others in school.

Western Oregon University | The Research Institute | The Oregon Deafblind Project

Ideas that work, IDEA logo

The Oregon Deafblind Project is funded through grant award # H326T130008, OSEP CFDA 84.326T, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP), OSEP Project Officer: Susan Weigert.

However, the contents of this site does not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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