Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Deaf Blind: How To Communicate

(♪♪♪) Hi everybody, so a while back I had gotten a request to get some information on how you communicate with Deaf Blind people. So I just want to warn you, I’m not an expert on this but I’m just gonna kind of explain some of the expereienes I’ve had. Also I went online and you know did some research the Deaf Blind Association, their website and things like that. So that was what I didn’t know. Also I will include links below for you guys if you are interested in more information. So let’s get started! Ok first I want to emphasize when I say Deaf Blind that does not mean necessarily a person is fully deaf and fully blind. It varies just like people who are only deaf, you know their hearing loss varies. Some people are Hard of Hearing, they can hear quite a bit. Some people are fully deaf and they can’t hear anything, and the same goes with Deaf Blind. Some people may be more deaf and less blind. Some of them might be fully blind and can hear a little bit more. So, again it just kind of varies. That’s why there’s so many different methods that you can use. So now I’m going to explain some of the things that you can do when you’re trying to communicate with Deaf Blind people. First I’m just going to give you some tips on communication. So the first tip is to remember some people kinda like you, your eyes, throughout the day your eyesight gets a little bit worse. You know it’s not as good at the end of the day as when you started. So just kind of warn you, at the beginning of the day somebody who is Deaf Blind they might be able to see pretty well. They might just need you to sign a little bit closer and that’s it. Then throughout the day, their vision might down a bit and they might end up at the end of the day needing tactile signing. So you don’t know. Just make sure you ask the person what they need. So the first thing that’s possible is the person might be able to see reasonably well. So they might just need you to sign at a closer distance. So that’s usually when someone’s called low vision. So for example you know maybe someone signs… usually you are at about this much distance. You might just bring it a little bit closer, maybe here, or maybe there. So again, just ask the person “do you need me closer, farther…” whatever their preference is. Ok another possibility is instaed of having a larger signing space, you might need to make it a much smaller signing space. So just a small box here on your chest. Sign about right here. So don’t use too large of a signing space. Another thing that’s very important and most likely with all or most Deaf Blind people is you need contrasting colors. Like this is an example. You can see my hand and this vest are a very similar color. So that wouldn’t work very well. So what I would need to do, or you would need to do, is see here have this color, this black. That is contrasting agaisnt my skin tone. So since I’m lighter skin, that means I need a darker color. It doesn’t have to be black, but that usually works best. If you have a darker skin then you woudl need to wear a lighter color, more like this vest color. So, darker skin, lighter and that’s contrasting and that will help you see better. Another possibility is you might need to sign slower. So sometimes it’s already a little bit blurry so if you’re signing really quickly then it’s really tough to see. So just take your signs a little slower. You don’t have to go super super slow, but just a little bit more of a relaxed pace. Ok another possibility is if someon has less vision, they might use what’s called tracking. So, I’ve noticed that’s not used as much but this what it is. So that’s tracking. So that means that the Deaf Blind person is holding your wrists. So it’s kind of giving them a little bit… a little bit more control. Meaning if they need to they can kind of make your signing space a little bit smaller. Also it just helps them to be able to track, like it says, where the signs are at. So they can kind of follow with their eyes a little bit easier because they have their hands to help out. The next method that you can use is called tactile. So that’s typcially used if somebody is fully blind or sometimes if they are very strong, like have a strong Deaf family they might use something like tactile which is this. So that’s what is called tactile. So meaning one person is signing, and the other person, the Deaf Blind person, will have their hands over the signers hands. Like so, and like you saw in the video. So that’s what called tactile. It doesn’t matter if you’re signing, if you’re fingerspelling. They have their hands over your hands and that’s called tactile. Another method which I’ve barely ever seen, but it’s mainly used like if maybe you don’t know any sign language at all or maybe you don’t know much sign language and you meet a Deaf Blind person. You can do what’s called Print On Palm. That’s this. So that method like I said is more for people who don’t know sign language. You are literally drawing the letters of the alphabet, A, B, C, onto a person’s palm. So they’ll be able to you like fingerspelling but without signing. Like get the letters on the palms so to speak. Ok one last thing I wanted to include and kind of emphasize is when you’re communicating with a Deaf Blind person, make sure you’re including more visual information. For example when you are watching somebody using sign language, you are watching their hands, the actual sign. But you are also watching their face, their facial expressions. So, if the person can’t see well or they can’t see at all. Maybe they are fully blind, they can’t see those facial expressions. Meaning you need to include them in your sign language. Also, just visual clues. So if a person is really mad. You know someone could be irritataed, or furious. So you need to include that in your sign language. You would say that person is very mad, or that person is really sad, or if a person is crying for example. The Deaf Blind might not see that or hear that, so you need to include like “the person is crying now”, umm “the person is flipping out”. Whatever that is, make sure you’re including the visual information. Maybe things about the room, like ok there are a few windows in the room. There are a lot of people in the audience, or how the tables are set up. They are set up this way, with a bunch of people sitting in circles around the tables. Things like that, include those and that will help a lot. So if you’re interested in more Deaf Blind communication tips or you’re interested maybe interpreting for Deaf Blind, go ahead and click on the links below for the Deaf Blind Association, and the other ones that I have. You can always go ahead and ask me questions. I will answer them if I can. Hopefully you guys, this has helped you a little bit with Deaf Blind communication. Again if you have any questions, leave them as comments below and I’ll do my best to answer those if I can. If I don’t know, I will try and send you to somebody who does for that information! As always I’ll have my videos down here so please go ahead and check those out and let me know what you thing. Yeah I enjoy you guys here as always and I’ll see you in the next video. Bye guys!

60 Replies to “Deaf Blind: How To Communicate”

  • Oh my goodness! Thank you for doing this video, I wasn't sure if you were going to do it , but you did! Thank you 😀
    On 0.28 mark there is a spelling error for 'website' you spelt 'websie' , on the subtitles ,
    Excellent video 😀

  • Is it okay if I share this with my friends to teach them about how to communicate with a deaf blind person?

    Plus I showed this video to the friend who is deaf blind and she agrees 100% on everything you said and now wants to make a YouTube account just to subscribe to you 🙂

  • Jill.. I stared at this video for a few minutes and I thought I recognized you! 🙂 I remember your happy smile from our workshop in Rochester. Good to see your face again. Hi to your wife.

    This was a great little video, and I am definitely going to share it with others. You are good at vlogs and I hope you keep them up!

    – Samantha (Bringing the Stage to Life Workshop)

  • yeah i really enjoy your vids especially when your signing with cc. thank you jill also i think its totally cool that your a married lesbian i definitely support that. its nice to see the LGBT community gaining more rights. well anyway hope you keep up the vids 

  • Thank you for making this awesome video, Jill!  🙂  I am deaf-blind as well (low-vision/profound sloping loss), and it's hard for me to read captions (so the Netflix has HUGE captions, haha) or read faces and lips from a distance, so being close definitely helps.  My ASL is rusty  🙁  but, yes, going slower also helps.  🙂  Again, thank you for your wonderful patience and understanding.  Jen is surely lucky to have you.  🙂  Peace always…

  • Hi, I've just found your channel and really enjoying your videos so far. I am hearing, have low vision and I'm learning ASL in a class with a Deaf teacher and sighted classmates. I love learning how to sign but admittedly I do find it very visually demanding to keep up. I found this video helpful for those reasons as well as learning more about how to communicate with people who are deaf-blind. Would you have any tips on how I could learn better in class without interrupting my classmates' learning? I totally understand if you don't – it's an unusual question I guess. I can't sign well enough yet to effectively communicate with my teacher on what I can and can't see. I want to continue learning!

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to watching more of your videos. Have a great day!

  • love this! I never really thought about how deaf blind people communicate, this was a really interesting and helpful video thank you!

  • Alsome my name charvell, l deaf blind.hear nothing but some vision left eye only basically.😁

  • This is so helpful! I am interning/being a camp counselor for deaf blind children for a week in June and I wanted to get more context on how to communicate with them as I have only finished ASL 1. This makes me feel so much better now that I've actually seen what it looks like. Thanks so much!

  • I remember reading about Annie Sullivan teaching Helen Keller the tactile signing method.   It is great that there are so many ways to communicate so that people do not feel left out of conversations with blind/deaf people.

  • Great video!  I'm trying to learn all I can about Deaf-Blind communication before camp next week.  You have one of the best signing videos I've seen.  You should be a teacher!  You're signing is beautiful, clear and easy to follow. Thank you so much for the help!

  • When I am about to learn something on your channel that I don't know about, I practice signing by turning the volume off. I see how long I can follow without hearing your voiceover and it's pretty hard, but good exercise! I recommend it!

  • This is so good. 🙂 I am sorry that i can`t enjoy more, because i am trying to learn Croatian sign language, and trying to be an interperor for hard of hearing, deaf and deaf blind people. So i really don`t want to mix up signs. 😛 But this is a really good thing you are doing. Because there are so many prejudice about deaf and deaf blind people. 🙂 Sorry on my bad English, I am so bad in grammar. 😛 I like your vid so much. Thanks 🙂

  • I have worked with deaf-blind people, in a variety of capacities, for many years. I just wanted to say you did a pretty good job with your video. You should consider using a deaf-blind person in future videos. Let me know if I can help you find someone.

  • no offense but I just wonder is it necessary for deaf people to have a lot facial expression or it just happen naturally when they do sign language?

  • I don't know if its just me or its a bad think but I just love watch deaf people communicate the way they use there hands is so beautiful and poetic and I find it mesmorizing

  • Great start… For more info on pro-tactile, go to search box and type protactile deafblind, you will see four videos explaining in protactile in detail… Enjoy!

  • omg… I really really really couldn't imagine not being able to hear AND see… 😭😭😭 I hope one day surgery for this stuff becomes cheaper for moderate people later on.

  • Fabulous! I loved this! So clear and concise! You provided a lot of very important and useful info. I will include link to this in my training webcasts I am preparing. Thank you.

  • I neither know anybody blind nor deaf in my life but I don't know why I have this feeling that I have to know or else I can't communicate with others


  • so they know, only with holding the wrists of the other one person which sign is meant? I don`t think so
    I have seen that the blind person makes a circle with his hands above the signing hands of the other person, with wrists i suppose they wouldn`t feel the differences between the signs. They are blind, they don`t see the hands 😉

  • so what if someone is fully deaf and fully blind and always has been, how would print on palm work? like how would they know what letters look like and sound like ya know?

  • I've been legally blind since high school (im in my 20s now) and I've started to lose my hearing also and am now considered deaf blind and I found this video looking for something to send to my in-laws as a way to give them suggestions for how to communicate with me. This is such a great video! Also your signing is nice and clear. Sometimes I can't see signing in vlogs because it's too fast and blurry (like you said! :D) but yours was so easy to follow!

  • Wait what.. when youre blind can you see blackness or is it just blurry? because shes saying here you might have to sign closer to them? so how do they know youre even signing if they cant see or hear im so confused

  • Hi, um, my sister has recently became deaf-blind due to an accident… I was curious to if you know of anything that I can do to like keep her occupied through out the day?

  • If you were to print on someone's palm and their palm is facing you would you do the letters backwards so that they don't seem mirrored to them?

  • Just stumbled across this video while looking at different deaf and deafblind related topics. As a user of Pro-Tactile (I am Deaf and have low vision in my left eye and near to none in my right, while also having night blindess) I find this video really good! Thank you for sharing all of this information! It is my hope to become a DeafBlind specialist one day.

  • I have a question. When someone (not everyone) signs why do they make odd or overly exaggerated facial or lip movements?

  • I am in my bachelor's interpreting program and this semester we had a Deafblind interpreting class. This weekend we interpreted for Deafblind people and went shopping with them. What is one thing that so important to stress is always communicate with the person if something is wrong or you need to let the person know something. Also be flexiable with method of interpreting for Deafblind. The person I worked with sometimes would use tactile when communicating from time to time, but typically used close vision interpreting when we just interpreted. Also while interpreting always identify who is speaking when you interpret.

  • Everything you said was spot on. I have a friend who is deaf-blind and it’s really hard to communicate with him. In the daylight or a well lit room we can communicate well but when it gets dark, or certain places like maybe a restaurant that’s dimmed,communication gets a little harder and I have to sign in his hand. The only thing that I disagree with is the proximity you mentioned. For him; he always says I sign too close to him and I have to move back. But again, I feel aligned with everything you mentioned. Especially where you said you might sneed to modify your signing space.

  • That is good we do deaf/blind people at our Apartment is in Los Angeles, CA and I am very proud of you explain more details for deaf/blind. God bless you.

  • This is so helpful. I'm a writer, and I wanted to include a deaf blind character in my story (the character is a child who helps the main character discover different kinds of strength) but I realized I knew nothing of how she would communicate effectively. YouTube videos from people with firsthand experience as well as a million Google searches saved me! My world includes magic so I considered telepathy but that felt like a cop out.

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