Service/Skills and Activities Taught At the Center and Off-Site


  • Communication
  • Independent Living
  • Orientation and Mobility
  • Leisure Time

Individualized Rehabilitation Training

  • Alternative Communication
  • Adaptive Independent Living
  • Adaptive Technology
  • Computer Training
  • Leisure/Tactile Sensitivity/Fine Motor Skills Development
  • Orientation and Mobility

Rehabilitation Training

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
  • Cleaning
  • Decision making
  • Grooming and hygiene
  • Health and diet
  • Identification of time and money by touch
  • Labeling – Braille/large print
  • Laundry
  • Machine and hand sewing
  • Organization – kitchen, bath, home
  • Protective techniques
  • Shopping
  • 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
  • Basketry
  • Beadwork
  • Bookbinding
  • Braille & large print reading
  • Ceramics
  • Clay modeling
  • Crocheting
  • Knitting machine – Braille adapted
  • Latch hook
  • Leather crafting
  • Playing adapted games
  • Quilting
  • Raised line drawings
  • Riding stationary bike
  • Sculpting
  • Socializing
  • Tactile holiday creations
  • Walking
  • Weaving
  • Woodcarving

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

Pre-Vocational & Vocational Services

Services provided in this area:

  • Work etiquette training – appropriate behavior, language and dress; time management skills; and problem solving skills.
  • Job development and job placement – assisting with job search, resume writing, interview techniques, reasonable accommodation requests, et cetera. In some cases, the job developer would contact and follow up with specific employers on behalf of the client.
  • Job coaching – upon hire, job developer assists with job training and implementation of appropriate accommodations such as use of the Deaf-Blind Communicator or other specialized communication techniques, special lighting, travel routes throughout the company, et cetera.
  • Follow up – periodic checks on performance, assistance if new skills are needed or additional accommodations may be necessary, and to address any employee or employer concerns.

Communication is imperative for job retention. The Center offers training and demonstration to the employer and co-workers in the best method of communication to be used and when. A list of outside resources is provided should the facilitation of communication require the services of one of these agencies.

Individual Adjustment Services

Sometimes it helps just to talk with someone to gain another perspective on a situation, learn other options of handling situations relating to one’s dual sensory loss, see the humor in a situation, learn to laugh, learn how to educate others of one’s needs, et cetera. Meeting one-on-one with a staff member or with another individual with the dual sensory loss facilitates this process. Should you wish to speak with someone regarding the individual adjustment services, please contact Joan Schneider at 414-481-7477.

Weekly Support Group

Often it is nice to meet someone just like one’s self and this group provides that opportunity. This group meets on Mondays and is open to anyone with a dual sensory loss. Accessed through interpreters and assistive listening devices, individuals discuss ways to cope with issues of grief and loss and share personal experiences.

Should you wish to speak with someone regarding the support group, please contact Joan Schneider at 414-481-7477.

Monthly Social Group – WISH

Let the fun begin! This monthly social group meets primarily the second Saturday of the month. Activities such as a New Year’s Party, Valentines Day Chili Dinner and Games, “Luck of the Irish” Corn Beef and Cabbage Meal, Cinco de Mayo Celebration, bowling and pizza, summer picnic, outings to: Discovery World, Milwaukee County Zoo, the “Domes” are planned and organized by individuals with a hearing-vision loss. Individuals with a dual sensory loss, their friends and family members are welcome to attend. Volunteer and staff aid in ensuring appropriate accommodations are provided.

If you want additional information or would like to volunteer, please call 414-481-7477 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To view the upcoming event click on the Events link or go directly to the current WISH event page.

Older Adult Presentations and Services

Older adults are assessed and receive services primarily in their home. They learn new procedures to be able to continue to cook, clean, identify clothing, move about safely, and perform other daily tasks. In addition to one-on-one services, the Center staff travels to retirement communities to give interactive group presentations on:

  • hearing loss – facts and myths about hearing loss, types and care of hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and TEPP (Wisconsin’s free Telephone Equipment Purchase Program),
  • vision loss – information about eye diseases, treatments, adaptations such as color contrast, techniques for reducing glare, and lighting options to maximize remaining vision,
  • communication and independent living tips – hands-on demonstration of products and methods to help compensate for diminishing hearing and vision, and
  • coping – allows individuals to share mutual concerns and learn about strategies for the future.

For services in the home, please contact: Joan Schneider at 414-481-7477.

For older adult group presentations, please contact Elyse Heinrich at 414-481-7477 ext. 160.

Community Support Service Providers

The Support Service Providers empowers the person who is deaf-blind by providing access and information. The most highly trained and accomplished person with a combined hearing-vision loss may not have a family member or a willing friend to assist with mail reading, banking, shopping or other tasks. The Support Service Providers are skilled in communicating in a variety of communication modes such as: adapted visual/tactile sign language, print-on-palm, raised alphabet card and print-to-Braille communication devices in order to communicate and accommodate individuals who are deaf-blind. In addition, the Support Service Providers are also skilled in sighted guides and other adaptations and techniques.

Services include:

  • Shopping Assistance - general or food. It is the responsibility of the individual, who is receiving this service, to select and make actual purchases. The SSP may:
    • act as a sighted guide in store
    • provide visual information: i.e., what is available, item appearance, reading labels, prices, sale info, etc.
    • assist with labeling and storing of purchases made upon arriving home
    • Mail Reading and General ReadingMatching - wardrobe, socks, etc.
    • assembly instructions
    • recipes
    • prescriptions
    • Airport, bus or train depot assistance - SSP can guide individual to the ticket counter and gate
    • Exercise - walking for health reasons
    • Housing Search
    • scan newspapers, literature
    • act as a guide for viewing
    • give a visual description of neighborhood, proximity to local stores, bus lines, etc.
  • Visiting/Socializing – reduce isolation by:
    • providing news of the outside world
    • doing chores/projects together
    • providing companionship
  • Special projects such as:
    • re-copying address book to larger font
    • marking appliances
    • troubleshooting problems with assistive/adaptive devices

Public Education and Technical Assistance

  • Help for Families: With the consent of the client, family members are encouraged to attend the individualized training. Learning communication methods and other skills promotes interaction and family harmony. Long-term futures planning and coordination of services. Some relatives gain insights by participating in the weekly support group.
  • Service to the Community: The Center offers consultations and comprehensive information and referral services such as:
  1. providing community education to promote understanding of the complex nature of a dual sensory loss – a unique disability, not two disabilities put together.
  2. providing technical assistance to individuals and organizations working with a person who has a combined hearing-vision loss.
  3. providing hands-on training to an individual with the dual sensory loss and demonstrations for the personnel working with them.
  4. identifying and coordinating services with other agencies.