Canaan Barrie 'on body' Sign System

pdf The full text of the book can now be downloaded from this website along with the sign illustrations.



Personal Gesture

Knowing that one’s gestures are seen and understood, is a vital stage in the development of symbolic understanding and the use of learned signs.


When supporting people with complex needs, it takes acute observation to pick up on their signals, consisting of gross motor movements, gestures and vocalisations. These will be very personal to them, depending on their degree of visual impairment and physical capabilities. They are the ‘signs’ that make sense to them and should be used by all in communication with them. This will help the person to understand the nature of gestural and, ultimately, more conventional sign communication.


There will be some personal gestures used for which there is no conventional sign and these will continue to be used by both partners as a natural form of communication.


Communication is about exchanging messages and ideas; it is not about teaching signs, or the ‘right’ way to say things.