Communicating with people who are deaf-blind
Deaf blindness is a combined visual and hearing impairment It is sometimes called multi-sensory impairment (MSI). It may cause difficulties with communication, access to information and mobility.
Deaf blind people may not be totally deaf or totally blind. It is important to remember that not all deaf blind people communicate in the same way.
Deaf blind people use a range methods to communicate, often using two at a time to access information e.g. lip reading whilst watching sign language or receiving Deaf blind Manual Alphabet to clarify names.
Deaf blind Manual Alphabet
Deaf blind Manual Alphabet is a tactile language, used to communicate with people who have little or no residual sight and hearing. It involves forming letter symbols on the palm of a person’s hand. It's simple to learn and easy to deliver, but much more difficult to understand.
Sense website - information on the manual alphabet
- Face the person
- Use a well-lit area
- Use a firm, clear voice
- Use plain straightforward language
Speak more slowly than usual
Sense website - information on clear speech
British Sign Language
British Sign Language or BSL is a visual means of communication which makes use of gestures and facial expressions. It has its own grammatical rules and is the first language of around 4,300 deaf people in Scotland. Another commonly quoted figure is 5,300 (Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People figures).
BSL users who are losing their vision may begin to use hands-on-signing. This is when a deaf blind person, to enable them to follow the signing movements, places his/her hands over the hands of the signer
Visual Frame Signing
Visual Frame Signing Interpreters are used by deaf blind individuals who may still have some sight. The interpreter adapts the sign language according to the area in which vision remains.
Lipspeakers repeat what is said, without using their voice, so that a deaf person can lipread them easily. They produce the shape of the words clearly with the flow, rhythm and phrasing of speech. Natural gestures and facial expressions are used to help the lipreader follow what is said and they may use fingerspelling if they are asked to.
Block is a system where the letters of the alphabet are drawn on the palm of the deaf blind person using the forefinger.
Sense website - information on block a form of manual communication
Also known as speech to text reporting, this is used by people whose first language is English. Speech is typed into a computer, word for word, so that it can be read. Special keyboards and computer software can be used and text is keyed in slightly slower than the speed of normal speech.
Braille and Moon
Braille – see Braille section
Moon is ideal for those who have gone blind in later life, Moon is easier to master, and is an alternative system using an alphabet of 14 characters, in various positions.
Most of the above information was taken from the Deaf blind Scotland website: deafblindscotland web page