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Helping children who are deaf-blind become an integrated part of their communities and lead fulfilling lives.

Family Guide: Teaching Your Child

Teaching a child that is DeafBlind is a unique experience and it starts at home with you! Your child's early years are critical in creating a foundation for relationships, communication and overall learning. In the following section, you will find some strategies that are specific to the deafblind population.

What is Communication?

Communication is the exchange of a message between two or more people. Through communication, children can make changes in their world, express wants and needs and make choices. Through communication, you can teach a child to play, to learn about the world, to interact with you to do daily tasks, and to work. Communication Fact Sheets for Parents (NCDB).

The degree of your child's vision and hearing loss will impact how your child communicates. Routines and repetitive activities are important. The ability to predict what will happen creates a sense of security and trust

Provide Cues to let your child know what is about to happen

Touch Cues: A gentle pat on the bottom may signal time to sit or a tap on the lip indicating it is time to eat

Sensory Cues: The smell of soap or the sound and feel of water may signal bath time

Object Cues: A bottle means it's time to eat or a diaper means it is time to change diapers

Elements of Good Communication

  • Emotional comfort - Touch is the primary way of receiving information for a person who is deafblind and can convey emotion, intention, good will or the lack of these things. Approach the child with sensitivity and position yourself in a way that is non-threatening and friendly.
  • Topics of mutual interest - Paying attention to what the child is paying attention to is an important skill. Whatever the child is focused on is a potential topic of conversation.
    1. Hands, body movement, facial expression, tension and relaxation give clues to the attention and interests of the child.
    2. Use objects and tactile experiences as topics.
  • Good mutual touch - Mutual touch is the equivalent of pointing at an object. The child needs to know that you are touching the object along with him, and that you are sharing the same topic. Good mutual touch:
    1. is not controlling.
    2. allows the child to know that you share the experience of touching the same object along with her.
    3. does not obstruct the most important parts of the child's own experience of any object that she is touching.

Resources to help you communicate and play with your child


A project funded by Perkins School for the Blind, is dedicated to helping parents of young children with visual impairments as well as children with multiple disabilities. Here you'll find a database of articles written by parents who want to share with others what they've learned about playing with and teaching a blind child, as well as links to meaningful resources and ways to connect with other families. Resource pages include:

The Importance of Touch in Parent-Infant Bonding

An article by Gigi Newton, Teacher Trainer, TSBVI, Texas Deafblind Outreach.

Perkins Scout

A searchable database of carefully evaluated online resources related to blindness and visual impairment.

LilliWorks Active Learning Foundation

A resource for making toys/activities that are meaningful for children who are DeafBlind.