How do Deaf-Blind People Communicate?
Deaf-blind people have many different ways of communication. The methods they use vary, depending on the causes of their combined vision and hearing loss, their backgrounds, and their education. Below are some of the most common ways that deaf-blind people communicate. These methods described are used primarily in the United States.
Sign Language and Modifications
Some deaf or hard of hearing people with low vision use American Sign Language or an English-based sign language. In some cases, people may need to sign or fingerspell more slowly than usual so the person with limited vision can see signs more clearly. Sometimes the person with low vision can see the signs better if the signer wears a shirt that contrasts with his or her skin color (e.g., a person with light skin needs to wear a dark-colored shirt). Adapted Signs:
Some deaf-blind people with restricted peripheral vision may prefer the signer to sign in a very small space, usually at chest level. Some signs located at waist level may need to be adapted (e.g. signing “belt” at chest level rather than at waist level). Tactile Sign Language:
The deaf-blind person puts his or her hands over the signer’s hands to feel the shape, movement and location of the signs. Some signs and facial expressions may need to be modified (for example, signing “not understand” instead of signing “understand” and shaking one’s head; spelling “dog” rather than signing “dog”). People can use one-handed or two-handed tactile sign language. People who grew up using ASL in the deaf community may prefer tactile ASL, while others who came from an oral background or learned signs later may prefer a more English-based tactile system. Tracking:
Some deaf-blind people with restricted but still usable vision (e.g., tunnel vision) may follow signs by holding the signer’s forearm or wrist and using their eyes to follow the signs visually. This helps them follow signs more...
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