Thank you, Helen Keller. For showing us that despite being a deaf-blind person, life can still be lived at your own discretion. Deaf-blindness can affect one at pretty much any stage. For Helen, it came when she was only nineteen months into this world, but it is a condition most associated with older adults.
However, many people are born with the condition (congenital), too, whereas for many others like Helen, it hits at a tender age (acquired). But that doesn’t mean a child with that as their circumstances cannot learn and grow in life. The learning process is, of course, different, but there are ways.
Ways to Teach a Deaf-Blind Child
Before you select a teaching method for such a child, it is crucial to factor in the severity of their case. About 0.2% of the world population suffers from severe deaf-blindness, whereas most such cases—about 2% of the world population, are of milder forms of it.
And those with milder symptoms are not necessarily completely blind or deaf. Similarly, some are born only blind but develop deafness at a later stage of life. Therefore, no blanket method for all.
As stressed already, have a need-based plan for the specific needs of a child. The plan should primarily revolve around giving them the maximum advantage of their remaining sensory functions. It is also essential that they are encouraged to be as independent as they can be. Involving them into deciding which method suits their needs is always a better idea than assuming for them.
Simple Sights & Clear Speech
As an instructor and as someone trying to make good use of the remaining sensory functions of a child, you must speak clearly, and in a tone that can be easily received by the pupil. It is also equally important that the visuals around you are simple, so that child has to focus less on the things in surrounding and more on the lesson.
This is a non-verbal teaching and communication method, where the instructor spells a word on the child’s palm. Each letter has a defined sign and placement, and the child’s preferred hand must be used for this exercise. Also, make sure you are gentle with your grip and patient with your lessons.
A popular method, deaf and blind kids can be taught this form of communication by either making the signs using your hands and letting them touch and feel whatever is being signed, or making it visually available to them. The visual method works only for those who have some ability to see. It’s, however, important to understand the extent of that ability and make the sign visible for them within that extent.
Braille and Moon
Primarily a tactile writing system, Braille and Moon once again make use of the blind person’s sense of touch to feel, form, and read letters and words. While braille makes use of the code of 63 characters, all drawn as raised dots on typically an embossed paper, Moon relies on curves, lines, and angles, to form alphabets.
Based on the modern English alphabet; or the Latin script to be more precise, Moon type is generally regarded as a more accessible teaching, reading, and writing method.
As evident, there are plenty of techniques that can be employed to teach a deaf-blind child. A fact that shows that your child can learn anything and everything they set their heart at. However, it is important that you stay patient with them, respect their personal comfort level, address them directly and clearly, and touch only with their consent. You can always count on Annie’s Place if you ever require professional assistance in this regard. Happy Teaching.