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Tactile signing

Photo: Tactile signing is used by some children who have both a hearing loss and sight impairment

Tactile signing is a method of communicating using touch that’s used by some children who have both a hearing loss and sight impairment. The deafblind child places their hands over those of the signer to follow what’s being communicated through touch and movement. This is sometimes called ‘hand over hand’, ‘hands-on signing’ or ‘tracking’. The signs are based on British Sign Language (BSL) and it includes the deafblind manual alphabet, which is based on the BSL fingerspelling alphabet. This method is particularly used by deaf children and young people who used BSL as their first language before losing their vision.

Deafblind manual alphabet 

This is also known as the fingerspelling or the tactile alphabet. Again, the signer signs each letter of each word, and the deafblind child places their hands over those of the signer to ‘read’ what’s being communicated.

Block alphabet 

The block alphabet is another tactile communication approach where words are spelt out on the palm of the child’s hand. The letters are traced onto the child’s palm using your finger, following the same shape and form as they are written.

Those who are deafblind might choose to use other communication approaches, such as total communication, speech, sign language and non-formal communication. Visit Sense’s website for more information on these approaches and for more information and support if your child is deafblind.