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Teaching Your Child

Teaching a child that is DeafBlind is a unique experience and it starts at home with you! Your child's early years are critical in creating a foundation for relationships, communication and overall learning. In the following section, you will find some strategies that are specific to the deafblind population.

What is Communication?

Communication is the exchange of a message between two or more people. Through communication, children can make changes in their world, express wants and needs and make choices. Through communication, you can teach a child to play, to learn about the world, to interact with you to do daily tasks, and to work. NCDB (2008).

The degree of your child's vision and hearing loss will impact how your child communicates. Routines and repetitive activities are important. The ability to predict what will happen creates a sense of security and trust

Provide Cues to let your child know what is about to happen

Touch Cues: A gentle pat on the bottom may signal time to sit or a tap on the lip indicating it is time to eat

Sensory Cues: The smell of soap or the sound and feel of water may signal bath time

Object Cues: A bottle means it's time to eat or a diaper means it is time to change diapers

Elements of Good Communication

Resources to help you communicate and play with your child

Common Sign Language for Babies: Introductory video. This video demonstrates common, basic signs to begin communicating with your child.

Communication at Home and in the Community: Helpful Strategies and Suggestions from Parents and Families with a Child Who is Deaf-Blind. (PDF format)

Communication Fact Sheets for Parents: 28 Fact Sheets, each covering a particular aspect of communication. Each fact sheet targets a specific question. addressing fundamental but complex issues related to the communication needs of children with vision and hearing impairments.

Communication Interactions: It Takes Two
NCDB Topical Publications.

Deafblindness: Educational Services Guidelines Publication offers state and local education agencies a framework from which meaningful, appropriate programming for students who are deafblind can be developed. These guidelines identify the knowledge and skills educators need to assist their students who are deafblind reach their full potential and become successful, contributing members of our society.

Early Interactions with Children Who are Deaf-Blind: by Deborah Gleason, the Regional Coordinator for Asia/Pacific Programs for the Hilton/Perkins International Program at Perkins School for the Blind. This fact sheet presents:

Harmonious Interactions: National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) Practice Perspectives, No. 1, June 2007. (PDF format)

LilliWorks Active Learning Foundation
A resource for making toys/activities that are meaningful for children who are DeafBlind.

Ohio Center for Deafblind Education
OCDBE offers a wide range of products that have been developed in collaboration with parents and professionals with the aim of helping families and service providers meet the needs of children with deafblindness.

Patterns for Developing a Communication Rich Environment: making conversation fun and engaging children in interactions to help them learn language. (PDF document)

Perkins Scout: a searchable database of carefully evaluated online resources related to blindness and visual impairment.

Receptive Communication - How Children Understand Your Messages to Them
NCDB Topical Publications.

Region 1: Parent Technical Assistance Center Network offers information on the evaluation of your child and writing their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Teaching Prelinguistic Communication: highlights findings from the study, Promoting Communication Outcomes for Children with Deaf-Blindness Through Adaptive Prelinguistic Strategies conducted by researchers Nancy Brady (University of Kansas) and Susan M. Bashinski ( East Carolina University). Includes links to video clips that accompany the publication.

The Importance of Touch in Parent-Infant Bonding - an article by Gigi Newton, Teacher Trainer, TSBVI, Texas Deafblind Outreach.

Tactile Strategies for Young Children who are Deaf-Blind: A Teacher's Perspective
By Patty Salcedo, M.A.

Talking the Language of the Hands to the Hands
By Barbara Miles

WonderBaby.org, a project funded by Perkins School for the Blind, is dedicated to helping parents of young children with visual impairments as well as children with multiple disabilities. Here you'll find a database of articles written by parents who want to share with others what they've learned about playing with and teaching a blind child, as well as links to meaningful resources and ways to connect with other families. Resource pages include:

Western Oregon University | The Research Institute | The Oregon Deafblind Project

Ideas that work, IDEA logo

The Oregon Deafblind Project is funded through grant award # H326T130008, OSEP CFDA 84.326T, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP), OSEP Project Officer: Susan Weigert.

The opinions and policies expressed by this publication do not necessarily reflect those of The Research Institute at Western Oregon University or the US Department of Education.

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