Tutoring Deaf-Blind Students
Developed by Art Roehrig, Office of Students With Disabilities
Interacting with Deafblind People
- To get a deafblind person's attention, gently touch the person on the arm or shoulder, wait to be acknowledged, and identify yourself; do not assume that a deafblind person knows who you are.
- Learn to use whatever means of communication the deafblind person prefers. If you know another method that might be helpful, share that information.
- Express yourself in a natural way; softening or exaggerating your gestures may result in confusion.
- Express yourself clearly and make sure that your message is understood. Summarizing important points at the end of a conversation is often helpful.
- Always inform the deafblind person of your whereabouts and when you intend to leave the immediate area.
- If others are present, let the deafblind person know their locations. Alert him or her to opportunities to enter conversation without interrupting others.
- If you move an object in the immediate environment - a glass of water, a chair, etc. - let the deafblind person know. This can prevent accidents and confusion.
- When walking with a deafblind person, offer your elbow or shoulder as a guide. Hold your guiding arm close to your side to provide a stable area of contact and walk slightly ahead of the deafblind person. Pause slightly to indicate that you have arrived at stairs or curb.
- You can learn more about interpreting and guiding by seeking suggestions of the deafblind people, observing their reactions in various situations, and consulting books on the subject.
- Deafblind people can increase their mobility through the use of walking canes, special transportation services, guide dogs, and personal guiding services.
- Transportation services provide deafblind people with a vital link to activities and services in their communities.
- With assistance, many deafblind people are able to use taxis, public transportation, airplanes, and trains.
- Deafblind people use a variety of communication methods,depending on the:
- degree of hearing/vision loss
- age at onset of hearing/vision loss
- situation or setting
- Blind people who lose hearing after they have learned to speak may be able to continue express themselves through speech, but often they must learn a new mode for receiving language.
- Deaf people who lose vision after learning sign language can continue to express themselves through signing, but must learn to receive language tactilely or in a modified form.
- Other methods of communication used by deafblind people include reading and writing in braille or large print, and the print-on-palm method, in which one communicates with a deafblind person by tracing shapes of letters in his or her palm.
- Assistive technology allows deafblind people to use computers and telephones and to converse with people unfamiliar with more specialized methods of communication.
- Interpreting services can greatly expand deafblind people's access to social, recreational, educational, and cultural events and community services such as counseling, medical care, and vocational training.