who are deaf-blind need a variety of communication options.
Communication systems should support natural social interactions
and conversations through symbolic and nonsymbolic means. The
use of selected tactile communication modes (e.g., objects,
tangible symbols, textured symbols and signs) should meet the
communication needs of an individual child and supplement the
childs body language and other means of communication.
Just as hearing children are exposed to thousands of words before
they begin to talk, children who are deaf-blind need extensive
experience with objects, signs and other symbols during natural,
everyday situations before they can understand their meaning.
for the Child who does not Learn Visually
an important sensory mode
the child to anticipate familiar events
the childs attention to ongoing activity
opportunities for social interaction
participation in activities
meaning to activities
the child learn
receptive and expressive communication
for Communication Partners
thoughtful and organized interaction with the child
observations and responses to the child
an expectation of the childs response
communication that is accessible to the child
the child by touching the back of his or her hand or shoulder.
yourself by saying your name and identifying yourself tactilely
(e.g., name sign, symbol, or identification cue).
and wait for the child's response.
contact with the child by sitting where you can see the child's
responses and are available as a communication partner. Offer
your hands to the child (e.g., under the childs hands
so the child can grasp your fingers or get your attention).
Or place your hand (s) beside or slightly underneath the childs
hand(s) or part of the body that is engaged in the activity
the child to explore the environment tactilely, (e.g., to
examine materials on table, to feel your own hands while engaged
in a variety of activities, to examine the activities of others).
your hands under the childs hands as you explore together.
a variety of communicative functions (e.g., request, reject,
offer, comment and attention getting) in the conversation.
Engage in "tactile conversations" about things by
touching them together with the child.
the end of an activity or interaction sign FINISH and tactilely
model for the child how to put objects in a finish box or
push them away.
goodbye before leaving the child by using a goodbye gesture
(e.g., wave, touch cue on shoulder) and having the child tactilely
attend to this signal.
Responsive to Child Preferences and Actions
the childs preferences and use those actions or objects
in your interaction and in your development of conversations.
how the child responds to being touched and use the type of
touch that is the least intrusive (e.g., put your hand beside
the childs so they are touching, observe his or her response
to determine whether you should take his or her hand).
time for the child to process information and observe the child
for an anticipatory response. Wait longer than you might for
a child of the same age who is not disabled.
to, interpret, and respond immediately to the childs communicative
the child to respond using the most efficient means for him
or her (e.g., pointing, touching a symbol, or handing over a
During Everyday Activities
tactile communication frequently and consistently with the child
during daily meaningful and age-appropriate activities and across
home, school, and community settings.
situations that motivate the childs communication and
in which tactile communication will be used consistently (e.g.,
the communication system that will be the most efficient given
the childs needs, abilities, experiences, and daily activities.
Cues and symbols should be accessible to the child, represent
the childs interests, and when possible, have a close
physical association to the referent.
a few cues or symbols consistently and gradually expand them
as the child understands their meaning.
in parallel play using duplicate materials and provide opportunities
for the child to participate in turn taking with objects and
other communication means.
situations so the child can experience other peers and adults
using the same communication system for similar purposes (e.g.,
Mary puts her hand under Sams to use his textured symbols
while she talks to Sam).
a Communicative Response
the childs attention
the child feel the object or symbol
for at least 5 seconds (wait time should be determined for the
no response: Introduce 1 item under or on the back of the childs
hands, arm or leg
any movement from the child on the item
hand-under-hand to accept the item from the child
engage in the activity
opportunities within the activity to feel the item and to engage
the childs reactions and respond appropriately
the communication cycle as appropriate
a Need to Communicate
the childs interests and preferences
the child a desired item that requires him or her to ask for
help (e.g., a snack that he or she cannot open)
the child a limited quantity of something that he or she likes
to encourage a request for more
choices on a regular basis throughout the day
the child something that is disliked or unwanted to allow a
favorite objects out of reach for the child to request
a familiar routine or expectation to allow the child to "coment"
a child seems to recognize an object cue or symbol (e.g., smiles
or gets excited in anticipation of a favorite activity), check
to see whether the child understands its meaning. How does the
child indicate that he or she understands the meaning of the
object cue or symbol? How does the child respond if you delay
offering the anticipated activity or begin another activity
instead of the anticipated one?
the child makes the connection between object cues or tangible
symbols and their referents, replace concrete object cues with
more abstract ones and increase the number of cues or symbols
to expand the childs vocabulary.
opportunities for the child to use familiar object cues or symbols
in multiple situations, with different people including peers,
and across settings.
offering choices, increase the numbers of options
for a Communication System
childs educational team and family members should agree
on the most effective communication system and tactile strategies
that will be used with the child. They should have a picture
and text dictionary of the childs communication system
so that selected cues, symbols, and signs are used accurately
symbols should be organized in a display (e.g., book, board,
photo album, wallet, and calendar box). They should be portable
and accessible to the child at all times.
displays should reflect the childs age, interests, physical
abilities, daily activities, and experiences. They should be
labeled (with word(s), phrases, questions) so communication
partners can understand what they represent.
providers and family members should document how frequently
they use the selected cues, symbols, or signs with the child.
They should observe and note the childs responses. Once
the child has been exposed to consistent use of the communication
system, service providers and family members should determine
whether the child understands the meaning of selected cues,
symbols or signs. For example, does the child understand the
object cue (spoon) for lunchtime? What does the child do if
you give him a spoon and wait for his response before offering
the communication dictionary after regular family/team meetings
on what is working, what needs to be changed, and what needs
to be added.
Communication Strategies represents a synthesis of information
from Project SALUTEs focus groups, National Advisory Committee,
staff activities, and a review of relevant literature such as
the following bibliography.
Here for Examples
Here for Michael's Schedule by Marleny Vydelingum and Cheryl
Bahar, Blind Childrens Center