University of Edinburgh

Establishing and Developing Communication with young people who are multiply disabled and VI or who are multisensory impaired

Thursday 25 May 2006

In communication we share


Triadic - communicator and deafblind person share a 3rd element


Potential communicative expressions can become communicative if the partner:

  • looks upon them as meaningful
  • discovers them
  • confirms them
  • tries to interpret them
  • and waits for the reaction of the deafblind person

The process of negotiation:

  • Negotiations are organised as small dialogues.
  • They follow a basic procedure in the co-construction of shared meaning and shared vocabulary.


  • The partner suggests an interpretation to the deafblind person (usually imitation plus expansion).
  • The partner gives a turn; waits for the deafblind person to accept or reject this interpretation.

Accepting or rejecting:

The deafblind person accepts or rejects the suggested interpretation (appears as bodily behaviour; smiles or persists, protests, frowns, freezes).

What is the negotiation about?

  • The meaning of the expresions
  • Time aspect
  • The motive of the expressions: Converse about something, share thoughts (declarative function); want something, need help for something (imperative function).

Gestures emerging from experiences:

  • Iconic gestures (the body or the hands represent the mental image)
  • Metonymy (one part of the image represents the whole image)
  • Metaphor (abstract meaning - represented by concrete mental images - 'as if')
  • Localisation (pointing)
  • Emotional expressions and environmental sounds.