DHS COVID-19 PROVIDER RESOURCES // ODP
ODP COMMUNICATIONS TOOLKIT
Tips for Supporting Someone Who is Deaf-Blind
Updated: April 10, 2020
- Communication methods are as individualized as the person and may include:
- Touch cues
- Real objects as reference
- Tactile Sign Language
- Large print or close up viewing for someone with low vision
- A person with deaf-blindness typically navigates life via touch; touching objects ad
people to understand information in the environment.
- Communication may take much longer than expected.
- The individual may prefer more communication than expected, such as describing
where things are or what you are doing.
- Many people with deaf-blindness, particularly those with an additional disability such as
a developmental disability, may not have a complete system of communication and may
not understand a lot that is happening around them.
- Being in an unfamiliar environment and experiencing things out of the normal routine, is
very challenging for someone with deaf-blindness. Helping the individual to feel safe
and calm is an important prerequisite to communication and treatment.
- What to do:
- Let them know you are there by touching them gently on the shoulder.
- Identify yourself in the same way with touch (your watch, ring, long hair, glasses,
etc.), your name, and your role, each time you interact with them.
- Allow extra time for the person to consider their response. A delay does not
necessarily mean they do not have a response.
- Tell them when you are leaving the room.
- Do not force them to touch something or move their hands or body without
- Do not move important items around.
- For someone with a vision loss, seeing the item up close, in their periphery, with
brighter light, or with contrasting colors may be needed.