Variation DB people communicate in a variety of ways. Most use either spoken English or Sign Language for their primary face to face communication.
Variation, cont. A very few use some form of spelling. Sign language (a variety of American Sign Language or ASL) can be perceived visually, tactually or using come combination of vision and touch.
Reading Visually using Tunnel Vision Standing at a distance slightly greater than usual.
Reading Signs Visually Again, at a slightly greater than usual distance.
Reading Sign Language Tactually The woman on the right is listening to the SSP using her left hand.
“Tracking” Vision + Touch The man on the right is listening to the woman on the left, using Sign Language. He is using a combination of touch (his hands on her wrists) and vision (watching her hands).
Another Combination Reading English visually, supplemented by Sign Language tactually.
Listening Auditorily The DB woman on the right is using her hearing to listen to the young woman on her left who has just guided her to the elevator.
Listening using ALDs ALDs are assistive listening devices. There are different types.
Language The modality (vision, hearing, touch) is distinct from the language. One can read printed English visually, listen auditorily, etc. People who become deaf-blind often find it useful to know both English and ASL.
Language, cont. Reading English on a Braille display.
English-first Signers These men both became deaf-blind after growing up using English as their first and primary language.
Get Comfortable ‘Ergonomics’ is the study of how furniture, chairs, tools, and so on in our environment affect our bodies and how to make, arrange and use them in the most comfortable way so as to not injure ourselves through awkward postures, etc. Be conscious of how you are sitting, standing and walking, and how that causes strain on your back, your arms, and so on.
Communicating Tactually Stay on the same plane or level rather than having one person reaching up. Reaching up puts a strain on your arms. Get close so you don’t have to stretch too far forward. Look at the next slide and see how these women are supporting themselves.
Use Supports for Back & Arms The DB woman on the left is using the table to support her back, and the back of her chair to support her listening arm. The sighted woman on the right is leaning back against her chair to rest her back.
Use Touch or Signals to Get Attention You can reach out and touch a hand or shoulder for attention. You can use vibration (e.g. quiet “pounding” on the table between you).
Turn-Taking The more fluent the communication, the more turn-taking will resemble what you are used to in either a spoken language or a signed language. The more challenging the communication, the more you will want to divide your comments into clear, well thought out chunks and pauses for feedback to be sure you are being clear.
Signals can be of Many Types The word “OK” has spread throughout the world and means many things. It is not so much a word as it is a signal: “understanding,” “all is well,” and a transition to a new topic or activity are some examples.
Signals can be of Many Types Hand gestures signal us to come forward, indicate size or direction, emotion and so on. Indeed ‘pauses’ or the absence of words/actions are themselves signals.
Sighted-Guide Signals While guiding a deaf-blind person you will use pauses or changes in your pace to indicate a change in the terrain (curbs, doors, an increase of traffic, etc.). A slowing pace signals ‘attention up’ that something is coming.
Pausing Pauses may indicate your own attention is elsewhere (e.g. getting your money out of your wallet, listening to a clerk) which need to be followed by communication to the deaf-blind person
How Do We Know? Of course, we learn about the environment through signals and the deaf-blind person may want to know what those are. For example, how do we know, when we enter an elevator, how many floors the elevator serves?
Back-Channeling ‘Back-channeling’ is the linguistic term for the response we give to the speaker as we listen. In English, it’s the “oh,” “umm,” “sheesh” to show our response. In ASL it is all the facial expressions and head nods as well as the signs “[Y- hand-nod]” and “awful”.
Back-Channeling, cont. Back-channeling can be verbal, or non- verbal, auditory, visual or tactual. Back-channel signals indicate you are paying attention and listening. They indicate your response or reaction (including feelings) to what is being said.
Back-Channeling, cont. Without tactual back-channeling a deaf- blind speaker feels like they are talking to the air with no response.
Tactual Back-Channeling In both pictures, the Sighted Listener is responding (tactual back-channeling).
Verbal / Non-Verbal Back-Channeling In the previous slide the listeners are responding with verbal (ASL) back- channel signs “yes, yeah” indicating understanding. There are also ‘taps’ or ‘squeezes’ that serve as non-verbal responses.
Tactual Back-Channeling In the next slide, aj granda is talking to a group. Co-instructor Jelica Nuccio on her left is listening. Notice Jelica’s left hand ‘nodding’ on aj’s knee, as she listens. The interpreter on aj’s right is also leaving her hand on aj’s knee to indicate her passive presence.
Reporting Back-Channeling Back-channeling is what the listener gives while listening. Feedback might come as verbal reporting of the responses of others. For example, an SSP might inform the DB person that the clerk is nodding.
A Three-Way Conversation The three women in the next slide - all fluent signers - are having a three-way conversation tactually. The signer (center) is using both hands as her dominant hand (signing the same thing to both). Notice that the two women listening (left and right) are maintaining contact with one another as well as with the woman talking.
Experience is the Best Teacher As you spend time with deaf-blind people, or just one deaf-blind person, you will notice many more things than can be included in this curriculum. It is important that you pay attention and continue learning. As you learn more, your body will remember for you.
Right / Wrong There is no “right answer” but… There are “wrong answers”. You have heard “It depends…” But – depends on what? This means you have to be aware, observant and analytical. Think about what you observe and feel.
Work / Play In a way, “play” is practice. Young children “play house” practicing roles in the family and as they grow, other games inculcate skills and attitudes of “sportsmanship”. The best SSPs (and interpreters) are those who spend leisure time with deaf- blind people as well as work time.
Communication and Respect The beginning of this power point emphasized the importance of touch but it is deeper than that. Respect means really seeing the person with whom we are communicating. It means changing what we do and how we do it.
Communication and Respect, cont. It means remembering what the other person prefers and not carelessly forgetting. It means paying attention to notice changes.
Default The default low-vision print is dark, bold, slightly larger and non-glare. When writing a note use a bold, felt-tip pen on buff or yellow (non-glare) paper.
Default, cont. When typing use Arial (which is “sans- serif”), in black (not blue, red, etc. as is sometimes used by email programs). Once you’ve typed the message, ‘bold’ it all (but do not use “Arial Bold” as this is too thick).
“Screen Readers” There are software applications used by some blind people to read print on their computers. These allow the blind person to adjust the colors, size of text and so on. A specialist in these matters can provide all the information. Of course, these are being improved and options are changing all the time.
Technology Technology is both changing and improving as we speak. Technology (i.e. equipment) for DB people is often playing catch-up, a few years behind technology for sighted/hearing people but the time lag is getting shorter and shorter.
The Deaf-Blind Communicator The Deaf-Blind Communicator (DBC) is a portable device for face-to-face, text and TTY communication. Other devices offer GPS and email. Specialists will have the latest and most accurate information. In the next slide the DB man checks his email while he waits for his meal.
In Conclusion Communication is much more than just language, it is also the form of the language; our attention to detail and our awareness of our own issues and tendencies.
Thoughtful Questions 1.What is your family’s communication style? Is your family very verbal, talking a lot or do they show their connections in other ways? 2.What is your family’s style with regard to touch? Are they affectionate or do they give each other space
Thoughtful Questions, cont. 3.What communication patterns in your family do you want to challenge or change for yourself?
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