Early Identification and Intervention

Early Identification and Intervention model for children with deafblindness/multi-sensory impairment


Deafblindness is a combination of vision and hearing impairments. It is also described as multi-sensory impairment (MSI). Some people are completely deaf and blind, but many have a little sight and / or hearing they can use. Some may have other physical and learning disabilities to cope with.

People with deafblindness/MSI face barriers in regard to accessing information, learning, communication, social and emotional development, and mobility and orientation. People with deafblindness/MSI are some of the most discriminated against and isolated, which often results in extreme poverty, social exclusion and stigma. This can have a significant impact on families as well.

Early Identification and Intervention

Early Identification and Intervention is a two-step process for identifying children with deafblindness/MSI as early as possible and providing specialist intervention services for children with deafblindness between the ages of zero and six years old.

Early Intervention services are essential for the early childhood development of children with deafblindness. Through hearing screening, visual testing, multi-sensory stimulation, functional visual training, speech therapy and physiotherapy, the child’s chances of reaching his or her maximum potential increase significantly.

Early Intervention also provides long-term benefits to families and society by enabling the inclusion of children with deafblindness in all aspects of life. It reduces the risk of the child requiring more intensive care (services) later in life, increases their independence and life chances, and reduces the challenges faced by families.

Purpose of the Early Identification and Intervention Model

The Early Identification and Intervention Model document is primarily aimed at providing guidance to Sense International staff and partners on how to set up an Early Identification and Intervention programme. It is based on Sense International’s programme experience, and outlines a model that describes the aims and composition of an Early Identification and Intervention service.

Outline of the Early Identification and Intervention Model

The Model includes:

  • Principles of Sense International’s approach to Early Identification and Intervention.
  • The Protocol, including; awareness raising, two-step screening, assessment, and therapy phases.
  • Quality assurance, including a sample quality assurance reporting tool.
  • The process for establishing an Early Identification and Intervention programme.
  • Example pathways for screening and for early intervention.
  • Information on setting up and use of sensory stimulation/integration room.

The Model concludes with several examples from similar programmes established by Sense International country offices in Romania, Uganda and Kenya.

More information

For more information or to obtain a copy of the Early Identification and Intervention Model please contact Sense International.

Project case study

Early intervention services for infants with sensory impairments in Uganda (2016-2019) - FCDO Funded Project

This programme is providing free screening for infants and children aged 0-3 years for congenital impairments as well as providing Early Intervention and Rehabilitation services for children found to have deafblindness or a multi-sensory impairment. Sense International Uganda is delivering this programme in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Uganda Virus Research Institute at four health facilities; Entebbe Hospital, Wakiso, Ndejje and Kisangati Health Centre IVs.

Why this Project

In Uganda there are limited screening and Early Intervention (EI) services for children with sensory and multi-sensory impairments. New-born babies are not screened for visual and hearing impairments, nor are they provided with essential and appropriate support in the crucial early years of development if they are found to have a disability.

This project will:

  • Build capacity (infrastructure and human resource) at the Health Facilities to provide screening and Early Intervention (EI) services for infants aged 0-3 years with sensory impairments.
  • Screen for sensory impairments all children/ infants between the ages of 0-3 years at the selected health facilities.
  • Ensure that children born with complex sensory impairments will have improved developmental outcomes, through accessing a specialist early intervention and rehabilitation health service. 
  • Collect and provide data on the prevalence of Congenital Rubella Syndrome, known to be the major cause of deafblindness and associated sensory impairments in children required by government and other stakeholders to introduce the Rubella Vaccination at the public health facilities. This vaccination is not currently being provided at public health facilities and yet required to prevent congenital impairments in children. 

This is a three year project that aims to establish the first sensory screening and early intervention programme for children aged 0-3 years in Uganda thus contributing to reducing child mortality. These vital services are being provided for the first time in public health facilities in Uganda under this project.

“We aim to use the learnings from this project to support the government of Uganda with developing a plan to sustain the screening and Early Intervention programme beyond the life of the project and roll it out on a wider scale in an affordable way.” Josephine Akiru, Country Representative - Sense International Uganda

First published: Monday 12 February 2018
Last updated: Monday 7 September 2020