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.





Image of Child

An Adapted Sign Vocabulary

Signing is a very effective way of encouraging a person's communicative understanding and the understanding of spoken language. Importantly, it provides an accessible means of self-expression.

The Canaan Barrie ‘on body’ signing approach was developed in order to make signing, which is a visual means of communication, both meaningful and relevant to the person with complex support needs through the use of touch and other available senses. The method includes signing ‘in front’, ‘on body’ and ‘hands over.’

More often these days it is referred to as ‘hands under’, though looked at from a person centred point of view, that of the person with complex support needs, it is indeed ‘hands over’ - their hands over ours.


The adapted signs:

It is important not to limit the signs used, but rather to use a range of signs frequently and in a natural, conversational way. The aim is not to ‘teach’ signing but to create a signing environment that enables them to express themselves and to understand their communication partners. In this way they will pick up and use those signs that are most meaningful to them.