Cognition in Relation to Congenital Deafblindness

The Nordic network on Cognition in Relation to Congenital Deafblindness consists of pedagogues and psychologists who work clinically or with research in the deafblind area. The members are from the Nordic countries and also the Netherlands and Great Britain. Together they develop knowledge about deafblind-specific assessment of cognition.

From Sensation to Dialogue

The network on cognition was formed in 2008, mainly occupied with a project on assessment of cognition in relation to Congenital Deafblindness. The network has around 20 members, predominantly psychologists and pedagogues within the field of deafblindness, several of them connected to universities as well. All the Nordic countries are represented as well as Switzerland, Holland and Great Britain.

As the subtitle “from sensation to dialogue” suggests, cognition is addressed in a broad sense, involving the field of physiology, neuroscience, cognitive and developmental psychology as well as social psychology, pedagogic and semiotics. The point of view has been practical, about sharing experiences and developing competence.

It is difficult to assess cognitive abilities in persons with deafblindness. Expressions are not easy to interpret, especially not so in the early congenital state. Our project has been focusing on this subgroup, and in addition also on acquired deafblindness and potential cognitive decline. Instruments and analytical models are missing to a high degree in both cases. Our project has hence aimed to improve the competence among professionals to understand, observe, describe and assess cognitive abilities in persons with deafblindness.

As the tactile modality is of outmost importance in deafblindness, we have pursued to increase our knowledge on bodily tactile cognition. We have also striven to develop methods and guidelines applicable in optimal settings, hereby including knowledge about communication in deafblindness.

Network members are trying to adapt existing infant and child scales. A memory test for elderly are also adapted to people with acquired deafblindness. Furthermore, a checklist on deployment and regulation of attention during tactual tasks and an executive functioning screening test are being adapted to children with congenital deafblindness. We have also been taking a step towards an analytical procedure to evaluate social cognition in the context of tactile communication

We will continue our developmental work within the network and thus fructify experience from the practical field with scientific findings and theoretical knowledge, in addition trying to convey knowledge via publications, presentations and exchanges.

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