HC Deb 19 December 1989 vol 164 cc166-7W
Mr. Ashley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many registered deaf-blind people there are in each local authority;

(2) what assessment he has made of the efficacy of the current methods of recording deaf-blind people in local authorities;

(3) what is his Department's estimate of the total number of deaf-blind people in Britain;

(4) whether any pilot project is being carried out to identify numbers of deaf-blind people.

Mr. Freeman

The numbers of registered blind persons in each local authority who are also deaf or hard of hearing are published in "Registered Blind and Partially Sighted Persons at 31 March 1988: England", a copy of which is in the Library.

The social services inspectorate has recently undertaken an inspection of personal social services for deaf-blind people. The inspection's findings confirm that the number of people registered with local authorities as blind who are also deaf or hard of hearing cannot be used as a reliable basis for a national estimate of the numbers of deaf-blind people because registration with a local authority is voluntary and not all deaf-blind people choose to register.

However, using a broad, functional definition of deaf-blindness, the National Deaf Blind and Rubella Association (SENSE) has estimated that there may be some 11,000 deaf-blind people in the United Kingdom.

The Department is not carrying out any pilot project to identify numbers of deaf-blind people. However, I understand that the Royal National Institute for the Deaf has done some work in this area and will be publishing a report in January 1990.