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On 1st April 2015, The Care Act, 2014 came into force with specific reference to deafblind people and their carers'. Debbie James, Director of Deafblind Enablement (DBE), has been working with and for deafblind people for over 34 years, developing appropriate services since the ‘Social Care Guidance for Deafblind Adults and Children’ 2001, was originally issued by the Department of Health by working in partnership with Social Care and Health.

This guidance is now mandatory. It is stated in the regulations that every deafblind person has the right to a specialist assessment facilitated by a person who has specific training, expertise and experience; care plan deafblind specialist; access to information and advice and in the market shaping guidance it mentions communicator-guides being available to address the issues faced by this unique, hidden disenfranchised group of people.

With an estimated 356,000 deafblind people in the UK, Sense of Urgency, 2010, with an estimated 1 in 6 older people (over 65+) have a combined sight and hearing loss,DBE felt strongly that specific training was needed nationally to reflect the standards required to work with deafblind people.

In the last year, there have been two new training pathways designed and developed by DBE in partnership with Signature and Birmingham City University to meet the Care Act, 2014 requirements.

Signature (previously known as CACDP) and DBE have worked to develop specialist deafblind training to meet the requirements of the Care Act, 2014 for specialist assessors, equipping staff with the relevant skills to work competently with deafblind people.

DBE is pleased to announce that the only NVQ Signature Level 3 Award in "Evaluation the Needs of Deafblind Adults" is available nationally, there are two modules:

  • DK301 – Understanding Congenital Deafblindness Using a Person-Centred Approach
  • DK302 – Insights into Mobility and Implications for Communication with Deafblind Individuals.

DBE’s Deafblind Awareness Officers have developed these courses with Debbie to ensure all areas of competencies are met.

All students are required to hold the Signature Level 2 Award in Communicating and Guiding DBG2 qualification prior to enrolling on Level 3. Students holding an equivalent qualification will be required to gain the qualification by attending a refresher course prior to starting Level 3.

Specialist Assessment – 1-day training course will enhance your training by learning good practice techniques, discussing difficult casework and dilemmas, legislation and funding, developing assessment forms, applying for funding and undertaking reviews.

Mentoring– any person receiving training from DBE will have the opportunity of Debbie mentoring them with specific cases.

For more information, see Signature website and contact DBE by emailing admin@deafblind-enablement.co.uk or phoning 01733 686969 for further details such as providing an in-house course, individual places, a training package or a working in partnership initiative.

Birmingham City University Rehabilitation Work Visual Impairment Team and DBE have worked in partnership to develop Specialist Assessment and Service Provision deafblind modules designed especially for qualified Rehabilitation Workers (Visual Impairment). These modules aim to upskill their expertise and knowledge in relation to working with people who are Deafblind. The modules may be studied individually or as part of a BSc (Hons) Specialist Complex Needs Rehabilitation Work (VI) top up degree.

Debbie has received very positive feedback from students, these modules are working at degree level developing capabilities and skills in line with the Care Act and include DBE’s deafblind assessors and awareness officers.

For more information about the Specialist Assessment and Service Provision modules please call Pete Cooke on 0121 202 4223.

We are now accepting applications for 2017/18. See here for details.

Frontline staff: The Care Act, 2014 specifically details front line staff providing access to information and advice to deafblind people (6.4, 622) Specific deafblind awareness courses can be provided by DBE by contacting 01733 686969.

Background: Debbie has been training Specialist Assessors and 1-1 specialist workers such as Communicator-Guides and support workers for over 25 years, with an enabling focus and facilitating realistic outcomes within recommendations and support plans. Debbie’s knowledge of Social Care and Health systems means she has a full understanding of the needs of deafblind people and how to improve their quality of life with issues relating to Communication, Access to Information and Mobility, as well as safeguarding and mental capacity. Debbie continues to work as a Specialist Assessor, continues to work as a Rehabilitation Officer for Visual Impairment/Deafblind people and Deafblind Interpreter. She continues to manage social care services nationally and has previously worked as a Registered CQC Manager.

New Developments

Assessments for Children and people with complex needs:DBE can be commissioned to facilitate specialist assessments and specific individual training sessions.

Signature Level 3 Deafblind Manual and Hands-on/Visual Frame: these qualifications and training courses will be available later in 2017/early 2018. For further information see Signature Website. Please contact DBE to add your name onto our mailing list so that you receive information when courses become available.

Communicator-guide service: If you wish to build a team of communicator-guides in your area or commission a communicator-guide service, please contact DBE.

Recruitment: DBE is always recruiting for communicator-guides and specialist assessors to facilitate services, if you wish to join our teams please contact admin@deafblind-enablement.co.uk.

See our 2016 Newsletter for further information.

Deafblind Enablement offer:

Specialist Support:

DBE leaflet

"Care and Support Policy Guidance for Deafblind Children and Adults", 2014, Department of Health, Section 7 Guidance, states "ensure they are able to access specifically trained 1-1 support workers for those people they assess as requiring one". Over the last six years, DBE has developed a strong team of specialist support services. We are going from strength to strength facilitating a quality, efficient and flexible service with the provision of Communicator-guides.

The Accessible Information Standard (SCCI1605) is to ensure people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss receive information that they can access and understand, and any communication support that they need. This includes communicator-guides, deafblind manual interpreters, BSL Hands-on / Visual Frame interpreters, advocates, and receive information in their appropriate formats in all health and social care settings. Organisations must follow the standard by law. This is explained in Section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

DBE's Communicator-guides are specifically trained to enable them to work with people with a dual sensory loss. They have specialist skills which enable them to safely guide in any number of situations/environments and communicate using a variety of methods that best suits the individual.

All our Communicator-guides have passed the Level 2 Award in Communication and Guiding with Deafblind People (accredited by Signature) and have a wealth of experience.

DBE now has a number of contracts via direct payments, managed services including ISF and by Social Care. Hours can be commissioned on a monthly regular basis, with flexibility for days and times using the most appropriate workers to suit the individual task needs.

Initially, a Service User Support Plan and Risk Assessment is completed initially and updated annually, with a view to providing a communicator-guide matched to the individual to ensure they have the correct skills to meet their needs and preferences.

We have set up a database of freelance, qualified, insured and DBS/CRB checked staff which allows us to be flexible with one-off, on-going or regular bookings.

Please contact DBE on 01733 686969 for further information.

What we do

The Team
Debbie and Philip

Deafblind Interpreters / Communication Support Workers (CSW):

DBE provides Interpreters and CSW’s nationally, with workers using a variety of communication methods to suit the individual’s needs. These include Deafblind Manual, Block, BSL Hands-on and Visual Frame. Please contact us if you require a Deafblind Interpreter or CSW.

DBE continues to develop contracts with Hospital Trusts, GP surgeries and other medical settings to provide specialist support on an individual basis. We also work with other interpreting agencies, and are happy to be sub-contracted to provide specialist deafblind services.

Both Communicator-Guide and Deafblind Interpreter services are provided for medical appointments, this means the deafblind person receives full access to information, communication and mobility needs and become an equal citizen in society.

DBE is currently a preferred provider for Capita.

Please register with DBE if you are a qualified Interpreter or CSW and are interested in facilitating specialist work.

To commission DBE please complete the booking form and email to admin@deafblind-enablement.co.uk

Interpreter and Communicator-Guides
An Interpreter or Communicator-Guide for a Hospital Appointment

Specialist Communicator-Guide Support Worker Training can be commissioned by DBE, especially if you operate a Communicator-guide scheme, use PA’s/support workers, care workers and wish to adhere to "Care and Support Policy Guidance for Deafblind Children and Adults", 2014.


Register with DBE: We continue to recruit experienced and trained people to register with DBE – please request a registration pack or ask for further information by contacting admin@deafblind-enablement.co.uk

Specialist Assessments and follow-up work

In line with the above, Care Act regulations and Guidance – DBE’s consultancy visits assess a service user's immediate needs and future aspirations, followed by a comprehensive written recommendation report, which identifies:

We will also highlight any areas of safeguarding, mental capacity and additional disabilities within our assessment.

The report will recognise the key factors to maintain independence for an individual using a person-centred approach, these are: autonomy and the ability to make choices and control of their life; health and safety; managing the daily routines of personal and domestic life; involvement in education, work, family, social and community.

Paperwork can be formatted in line with local Social Care Assessments and Reviews to facilitate an easy practitioner standard way of working.

Deafblind Enablement is able to help Local Authorities meet their obligation in the following ways: An Individual Specialist Assessment Consultation
This certificated course, which Debbie James has been responsible for creating and delivering for over 14 years, is designed for professionals who are undertaking an assessment role with people who have sight and hearing loss to meet the Care Act, 2014 and Guidance "Care and Support for Deafblind Children and Adults", 2014.

We pride ourselves on our ability to tailor-make this course to meet your needs, which will be reflected in the course agenda/specification.

Specialist Training Courses

Self-Assessment Questionnaires and Support Planning

Deafblind Enablement has many years experience supporting people with a dual sensory loss to accurately complete Self -Assessment Questionnaires, assisting as an advocate, incorporating communication techniques, minimising the stress involved while understanding their needs and requirements. During the support planning process we are able to research what is available locally and nationally to give individuals choice and control in line with personalisation.
Services Booking form


In our experience many deafblind people receive a contracted support service which should be review annually. Deafblind Enablement is able to provide specialist workers to review current needs, address sensory issues and provide future recommendations in line with social care reviews, as demonstrated with Essex County Council in 2011.
Services Booking form

Rehabilitation Services

Rehabilitation Officers work with visually impaired and deafblind people to promote independence and provide support in a variety of areas. These areas include: It has a functional focus rather than medical, adapting to the individuals needs and abilities.

Deafblind Enablement offers rehabilitation services to those with a congenital and acquired loss, with an elite team of qualified rehab officers who are widely known experts within the field.

Deafblind Enablement's team of Rehabilitation Officers provide the following:
Rehabilitation Assessments and tutition can be comissioned for people with visual impairment only.

Rehabilitation Support Workers:

The role of the rehabilitation support worker is to work with people who have a dual sensory impairment to restore their independence under the auspices of a qualified rehabilitation officer.
The rehabilitation support worker will follow a programme written by a qualified rehabilitation officer following an assessment of the individual's needs.
The training can range from using a long cane to independently walk a route, making drinks and meals and learning to use Braille or Moon.

Services Booking form

Specialist Training

Please see Training page

Sensory Audits

Sensory audits will cover accessibility, training of staff, overall good practice, lighting, enablement within any establishment such as a residential home, hospital, shop etc.

Deafblind Enablement has qualified staff who work alongside Awareness Officers (Deafblind people themselves) to ensure all areas addressed. A consultation report with recommendations will be issued.

Establishments meeting our standards will receive an accreditation certificate and will be publicised on our "Good Practice" website page.

Services Booking form

Consultancy, Project Management, Specialist Supervisions/Staff Management and Deafblind Forums

Staff at Deafblind Enablement have many years’ experience of consultancy work including the following: Please contact us to discuss your needs, we will be happy to provide appropriate advice and information.