Alternative Communication: To reduce loneliness and provide access to information, clients are encouraged to learn one or more alternative modes of communication such as touch sign language, Braille, raised alphabet cards, print-on-palm, and Braille-to-print devices. A Screen Braille Communicator or similar device allows a person to type a message on a print keyboard that appears on a Braille display for the consumer. Skills taught include:
- Braille-Print card consists of rows of Braille letters and numbers with corresponding print symbols above each. A sighted person locates the desired letter and places the finger of the consumer on the Braille letters to spell out short messages.
- Braille reading/writing: system of tactual reading using embossed dots as well as writing Braille by making embossed dots.
- Computers – Braille/large print access
- DeafBlind Communicator – a print-to-Braille portable device use to make phone calls and to facilitate face-to-face conversations.
- English language skills
- Handwriting maintenance
- Listening devices
- Optical aids
- Manual alphabet (fingerspelling) consists of twenty-six hand shapes representing each letter of the alphabet. Using the various hand shapes, the sighted person would spell each word, letter by letter, into one or both hands of the client. Some clients may learn a variation called “knuckle reading.” This variation entails the client placing his or her hand on top of the sighted person’s hand and by feeling the movements of the knuckles and fingers, is able to understand the message being fingerspelled.
- Print typing
- Print-on-Palm is a method whereby sighted person uses his or her index finger to print block letters on the palm of the client. Letters may be printed on one’s wrist, arm or back in cases of impaired tactile sensitivity.
- Print-to-Braille devices: portable communication tools used by consumers who have learned Braille. Sighted person types a message on a print keyboard. Message appears in Braille on the Braille display. The consumer responds or initiates a conversation by typing on either the print keyboard or the Braille keyboard.
- Raised alphabet card is a sturdy, pocketsize card. Sighted person places the client’s finger on the raised alphabet letters to spell out a brief message.
- Scanner – converts print to Braille
- Screen Braille Communicator
- Signaling devices
- Tellatouch (print-Braille device)
- Touch sign language: Sign language is a visual language using various hand shapes and movements to convey ideas. Signs may be read visually at varying distances and with modifications in rate and size to accommodate impaired sight, or read tactilely by persons who are deaf with little or no vision.
- Writing aids and methods of communication include dry erase board, bold line papers, paper with dark markers and a variety of hand writing guides.
For more information about the deaf-blind specific communication methods and devices described above or for information on less frequently used modes such as the alphabet glove, Tadoma method, two-hand (British) manual alphabet or Morse code, please contact Joan Schneider at 414-481-7477.
Adaptive Independent Living: Instructors may employ some of the rehabilitation teaching procedures used in training individuals who are blind, but must also use vibra-tactile methods for persons who are deaf/hard-of-hearing in addition to being blind. A Liquid Level Indicator, for example, is a small device placed over the rim of a cup, which vibrates when liquid reaches the desired level. Other independent living adaptations are taught in the areas of safe cooking (raised markings on the stove and microwave), grooming, cleaning, laundry, labeling and care of wardrobe, and identification of time and money by touch. Areas of instruction:
- Adaptive safe cooking techniques
- Banking, money management and budgeting
- Decision making
- Grooming and hygiene
- Health and diet
- Identification of time and money by touch
- Labeling – Braille/large print
- Machine and hand sewing
- Organization – kitchen, bath, home
- Protective techniques
- Sighted guide techniques
- Social skills
- Wardrobe management
Adaptive Technology: Specialized equipment/devices help clients regain or maintain their ability to function. For example, they may receive instruction in the use of a vibra-tactile signal system that alerts them to the sound (converted to vibration) of the doorbell, telephone, or smoke alarm.
Computer Training: Instruction on software programs or special devices is provided with a focus on Braille, large print or synthesized speech. Clients may also receive instruction in computer-based TTY (typewriter telephone for the deaf), with large print or Braille access. Hardware devices include portable word processing note takers, Braille embosser, and scan and read equipment.
Leisure/Tactile Sensitivity/Fine Motor Skills Development:
Adapted games, crafts, gardening, exercise, and other activities are explored to replace television and radio. These activities often heighten tactile sensitivity and coordination, skills that enhance other training areas.
- Aluminum tooling
- Assisted letter/poetry writing
- Braille & large print reading
- Clay modeling
- Knitting machine – Braille adapted
- Latch hook
- Leather crafting
- Playing adapted games
- Raised line drawings
- Riding stationary bike
- Tactile holiday creations
Orientation and Mobility: The goal of this program is to instruct individuals in safe, efficient, and independent travel. Clients learn how to move about in various environments by employing a variety of adaptive techniques in conjunction with any remaining hearing or vision.
The Center’s instructor works with clients having a moderate to profound hearing loss in addition to blindness and will have to use special methods. Unable to localize traffic, the client may have to carry a card listing his dual sensory loss with a request soliciting assistance to cross the street safely. In addition to the white cane, devices such as a tactile compass and global positioning system accessed through a Braille display may be required. All clients learn sighted-guide, protective, and other techniques. Sign language interpreters are provided when needed.
Summary of services provided:
- Strategies for using remaining vision, hearing and other senses
- Sighted guide techniques
- Orientation to the Center, home, and community
- Use of the white case for identification and information gathering
- Route planning
- Bus travel
- Use of assistive devices such as compass and global positioning devices
- Preparatory training required by dog guide schools and follow-up reinforcement