Communication Resources

This topic collects information on the development of language and communication skills in those who are blind or visually impaired. Most links here focus on younger children. Parents can explore strategies for establishing communication, fostering the use of language, and the use of tactile and object cues in helping the child to understand their environment.

Charity Rowland and Philip Schweigert provide an in-depth introduction to tangible symbol systems in this downloadable PDF of their book, including their purpose, receptive and expressive communication, getting started, and monitoring progress.

Source: U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) – Ideas that Work, Tool Kit on Teaching and Assessing Students with Disabilitie

This introduction to tangible symbols includes a definition, examples, considerations, and a list of advantages and disadvantages; available in English and Spanish.

Source: Project SALUTE

Braille instruction expert Lucia Hasty discusses the importance of language and concept development for young children who are blind as skills needed for braille literacy.

Source: Perkins School for the Blind, Perkins eLearning

A video demonstration by Dr. Denise Robinson of Tech Vision of a remote braille instruction technique using Skype.

Source: Paths to Literacy

Robbie Blaha and Brad Carlson describe how to develop appropriate adaptations and strategies for teaching manual language systems to children who are deafblind.

Source: National Center on Deafblindness

Learn how to develop and use a Communication Portfolio for learners with deafblindness and multiple disabilities. Susan DeCaluwe explains this personalized view of the learner’s communication skills, abilities and challenges across all environments.

Source: Perkins eLearning Webcasts

Peggy Freeman's comprehensive program of care for parents of babies who are deafblind  with multiple disabilities includes sections on relationships, routines, vision, touch and touching, development of communication, moving/being moved, play, and signing.  Each section offers numerous concrete suggestions for activities to enjoy with your child.

Source: National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB)

This checklist is divided into separate domains and arranged in developmental sequence from birth to six years.  Skill areas include cognitive, language, compensatory, self-help, fine motor, and gross motor (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Source: Southern Oregon Education Service District

Tips for hospital personnel caring for people who are blind or visually impaired; includes suggestions for communication, guiding, and orienting the person to the room.

Source: Blindskills, Inc

Teachers will find many practical suggestions for incorporating braille into a regular classroom. Projects, games, and activities designed to introduce sighted students to braille and help them feel comfortable with their classmates who are blind.

Source: American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

This information sheet introduces touch cues, including their purpose, examples of their use, considerations, advantages, and disadvantages; available in English and Spanish.

Source: Project SALUTE

Travel Guides provides accurate and detailed travel information for persons with disabilities. We are opening doors to persons with hearing, visual, mobility, and cognitive disabilities so they can enjoy all that the world has to offer.

This article explores some of the basic questions to consider when setting up a schedule system with your child.

Source: FamilyConnect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

A checklist for assessing a student's ability to use an alternative communication system that requires some vision. (PDF file)

Source: Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)

Diane Evrard and Lisa Reale from the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children discuss the importance of considering visual, motor, and cognitive skills when designing communication programs. AAC assessment, intervention, and prioritization of skill development are discussed. This webinar, presented in 2 parts, includes video case studies of children at different levels of communicative skill.

Source: Perkins eLearning

Mary McDonach explains the pattern of speech development in which children repeat what has been said to them.

Source: Wonder Baby