1. When you approach a deafblind person, let the person know by a simple touch that you are near. A warm, friendly handshake will show your friendly interest.

2. Make positive but gentle use of any means of communication that you adopt. Abrupt or exaggerated gestures might be misunderstood.

3. Work out a simple but special signal for identifying yourself, or tell your name if the deafblind person prefers.

4. Learn and use whatever kind of communication the deafblind person knows. If you know another means of communication that might be valuable to the person, offer to help him/her learn it.

5. Be sure the deafblind person understands you, and be sure you understand him/her.

6. Encourage the deafblind person to use any speech that is possible, even if it is limited to only a few words.

7. If there are others present, let the deafblind person know when it is appropriate to talk.

8. Inform him/her of the whereabouts of others present.

9. Tell the deafblind person when you leave even if it is only for a brief period. See that he/she is comfortable and safely situated. If the deafblind person is not sitting, provide something substantial for him/her to touch before you leave. Never abandon a deafblind person in unfamiliar surroundings.

10. In walking, let him/her take your arm. Never push a deafblind person ahead of you.

11. Make use of a simple set of signals to let him/her know when you are about to (a) ascend a flight of stairs, (b) descend a flight of stairs, walk through a doorway, or (d) board a vehicle. A deafblind person holding your arm can usually sense any change in pace or direction.

12. Encourage deafblind persons to use their own initiative and abilities. Encourage them to express their own ideas. Encourage their interest in new experiences.

13. Rely on your natural courtesy, consideration, and common sense.

Avoid getting flustered or irritated if misunderstandings arise. Occasional difficulties in communication are only to be expected with all people, not just the deafblind.

A-Z to Deafblindness