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There is a large variety of communication methods in the case of people with deafblindness, according to the type of deafblindness: congenital or acquired. This variety is given by the uniqueness of each individual, by the fact that – depending on the degree of hearing or visual loss – forms of communication may vary of coexist. The major aim is the establishment of a common code, giving the individual the possibility to relay messages (information, feelings, and needs) and to access information in the surrounding environment.


the complete list of communication methods in defblindness


For most of us, communication is limited to verbal, written or mimico-gestual language. For many people with congenital deafblindness, however, the main forms of communication will be non-verbal ones (gestures, vocalizations, breathing, eye movement, etc.) or systems based on symbols.

For more information: http://www.sense.org.uk/content/communication-and-congenital-deafblindness.


Most of the time, people with acquired deafblindness have already learned a certain formal language, but need to adapt their means of communication or learn new methods.

For more information: http://www.sense.org.uk/content/communication-and-acquired-deafblindness .


Many people with deafblindness, especially those with congenital deafblindness, are unable to master a formal method of verbal communication and resort to non-verbal elements to transmit information: gestures, bodily postures, vocalizations, breathing, eye movement, etc.


In the category of communication based on symbols, reference objects and icons can be included, which are addressed especially to persons with congenital deafblindness.

Reference objects are objects that are meant to symbolize specific activities. For example, the bedtime of a child with deafblindness may be associated with a particular toy, as eating may be associated with a spoon and drinking with a glass.

Icons are visual images (for those children who have visual impairment) or tactile representations that can also be associated with certain activities, objects or even short statements.


In the category of communication based on gestural language are included: mimico-gestual language, tactile adapted mimico-gestual language (including "hand-on-hand" communication), haptic communication and Makaton.

Mimico-gestual language is mainly used by deaf or hearing impaired people, but it is also used by deafblind people when they have enough sightlags to use this language. The tactile-adapted mimico-gestual language requires prior knowledge of the mimico-gestual language and the gradual transition to its tactile version (for example, in the case of deaf people who also end up losing their sight).

In the "hand-on-hand" communication, the person with deafblindness puts his hands over the hands of the interlocutor, feeling the movements they perform, his participation being passive. It is a form of communication used in the exploration and knowledge of the environment by the person with multiple deficiencies. This method is complemented by the "hand-in-hand" technique, where the person with deafblindness is the one who has control, which gives direction and meaning to communication. Haptic communication involves the use of tactile signs that describe the environment, describe people or emotional states, signs concreted by touching, usually touching the back of the deaf person.

Makaton is a language derived from mimico-gestual language, but without the presence of grammatical elements. According to Sense's UK website, this communication system is based on signs, signals and even verbal elements.


There are a variety of alphabet-based methods: manual alphabet, block alpha, moon or braille alphabet.

The manual alphabet involves communication by reaching points on the fingers / palms, points corresponding to a certain letter.

The Block Alphabet is very accessible to anyone who wants to communicate with people with deafblindness who can use this system, because it involves writing the words in the Latin alphabet, in capital letters. The letters are contoured with the index finger, across the surface of the palm, large and clear. There is a pause between words.

The Moon alphabet was invented by William Moon (1818-1894), blind, at the age of 21 (as a result of scarlet fever). It is derived from the Latin alphabet. It was created especially for those with acquired blindness or who do not have a fine tactile sense.

The Braille alphabet was invented by Louis Braille (1809-1852), who became blind at the age of 3, following an accident. He adapted the "night writing" of Captain Charles Barbier (1821) through simplification and regularization (six relief points, organized in uniform columns, recognizable as a whole - tactilem).


Within these external support systems, there are, on the one hand, interpreters specialized in communication with people with deafblindness and, on the other, systems that involve technologies (cochlear implant, hearing aid, telecommunication systems, high-tech communication devices with special software that translates information into a language accessible to people with deafblindness.


This method is mainly applied to children with deafblindness and involves adapting the communication style, for example adjusting the voice, sight or body posture, imitation, observation, repetition. In this method, each action of the child with deafblindness is considered a communication act, each gesture has a meaning that must be understood through intensive interaction.


Total communication is the most effective communication system in the case of people with deafblindness, because it involves the simultaneous use of speech, signs, dactylemes, labiolecture, residual hearing, indices, gestures, images or written verbal language. Thus, in communicating with a child with deafblindness, for example, the interlocutor will speak a word, but he will also signal tactile gesture, so that this method recognizes the moral right of the persons with sensory deficiencies to maximum input, in order to understand optimally and completely the transmitted messages in different ways.