Guidelines for Interacting with people who are Deaf-Blind
“We are never happy until we try to brighten the lives of others,” Helen Keller.
Helen Keller National Center
141 Middle Neck Road
Sands Point, NY 11050
Phone: (516) 944-8900
TTY: (516) 944-8637
Fax: (516) 944-7302
Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults
Guidelines for Interacting with People who are Deaf-Blind:
*When you approach a person who is deaf-blind, let them know-by a simple touch on the shoulder or arm-that you are there. Reassure them of your continued presence in the same manner.
*Immediately identify yourself by name or a sign name.
*Communicate directly with the person who is deaf-blind, even when using an interpreter.
*Make every effort to learn and use what-ever method of communication the individual prefers, such as print-on-palm, finger-spelling, American Sign Language or writing with a bold, black pen, to name a few. Some individuals may have enough hearing to carry on conversations in quiet surroundings.
*Use the words “see”, “hear”, “deaf” and ” blind” naturally without hesitation, if your conversation calls for them.
*Inform the person who is deaf-blind of their surroundings, including people and activities in the area.
*When involved in group discussions, let the person who is deaf-blind know when it is his or her turn to speak.
*Always tell the person when you are leaving, even if it is only for a brief period. See that he is comfortably and safely situated. If standing, make sure he has something to place his hand on life a wall, a chair or a table.
*When guiding a person who is dead-blind, never place him ahead of you. Instead, let him hold your arm above the elbow. In this manner, the person can usually sense any change in pace or direction. When ascending or descending stairs, pause and then continue on. When walking through a doorway, let the person who is deaf-blind follow directly behind you.
*Treat a person who is deaf-blind as you treat anyone else. Be courteous, considerate and use common sense.
Print-on-Palm (POP) is a simple method of communicating with a person who is deaf-blind and familiar with printed English.
To use POP: with your index finger, “print” your message in the palm of the hand of the person who is deaf-blind. To make each letter, follow the diagram, which indicates the recommended direction, sequence and number of strokes for each letter. Use capital letters only, except for the letter “i” which is lower case. Print only in the palm area. Do not connect letters. Pause after each word. If you make a mistake, “wipe” the palm, then print the correct letter. If the person has speech, he or she may say each letter and word aloud as you spell it. This is good way to know that your message is being understood.
One Hand Manual Alphabet:
The one-hand manual alphabet, also known as fingerspelling, is a visual code for the English alphabet. It can be used to spell words to a person who is deaf-blind. If the person is totally deaf-blind, you will need to fingerspell the words into the palm the words into the palm of the person’s hand. This is called “tactual fingerspelling”. You may recognize this as the method of communication used by Annie Sullivan with her famous student, Helen Keller.
Disclaimer: this information was taken directly from a handout from the Helen Keller National Center. For information on the Center, please call or email the above numbers.