University of Edinburgh

Working with Pupils with a Dual Sensory Impairment or Deaf Pupils with Complex Needs

Presented on Wednesday 26 November 2008

Resources for working with deafblind young people

Tracking Tube

The clear plastic tube that forms the basis of this item was the packaging for a roller blind and is simplicity itself to make.

The length of the tube allows the cotton reels to move at different speeds according to the angle at which it is held, giving the child time to fixate and track as necessary.

Since it was introduced into the classroom many other uses have been found, eg; as an easily grasped, outsize rattle giving auditory, visual and proprioceptive experiences.


Clear plastic tube
3-4 cotton reels
2 card discs
masking tape

Tools - Scissors


1. Cut the card into 2 discs 2 cm larger than the diameter of the tube.

2. Make small snips all round the edge of the discs to the exact size of the tube.

3. Place one disc on one end of the tube, fold over snipped edges and secure with masking tape.

4. Put cotton reels into the tube.

5. Repeat stage 3 with other end of tube.


Pingpong or golf balls can be used instead of cotton reels to change the sensory experience.

A smaller version of the tracking tube can be made from a chocolate egg tube with marbles or other small items inside.

[from Make it Simple 1985]

Home-made Playdough

The recipes seem endless and getting hands in can involve a whole range of textures, smells and tastes. The exact recipe you follow will govern stretchiness, pliability, bounce and workability. Your child will love the feel of squeezing dough through fingers and kneading, pummelling and stretching it.

Please remember some children find touching threatening. It is is not helpful to insist on 'hands-in'.

Basic Dough Recipe

1 mug of plain white flour
half a mug of salt
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
a few drops of food colouring

Mix the dry ingredients in a large saucepan and gradually add the water. Pour the cooking oil into the dough. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan. Spoon onto a lightly floured surface and knead when cool.

Basic dough can be kept for up to 3 months in an airtight container - less if perishable extras have been added. Play with the dough outside if weather permits or indoors - a tidysheet provides a good area for squidging.


Textured dough - Add a some desiccated coconut, tea leaves or red lentils to the mix before cooking.

Rainbow dough - Roll out a handful each of red, yellow and blue dough into pancakes. Layer one on top of the other and knead together.

Unusual colours - Try making purple, brown or black dough for a change, and add coconut to white dought for a winter snow scene.

Smelly dough - Add peppermint, lemon or vanilla essence to the basic mix before cooking.

Tacky dough - Add one tablespoon of cooking oil and more water to the basic mix for sticky dough. Dry dough just requires less water than the basic recipe.

Aromatic dough - Add ground cinnamon and vanilla extract to the basic mix before cooking.

Why not make a dough that is pliable, aromatic and edible too? One young lady I know who frequently made a fuss at feeding time, self-fed this playdough and wanted more...

Edible fundough

100 g smooth peanut butter
100 g honey
200g powdered milk

1. Mix everything together in a bowl.

2. Add more powdered milk if necessary to make it workable

3. Knead till ready

[from Information Exchange]


This piece of equipment was originally designed by Monica Taylor for use with profoundly handicapped adults. It is particularly effective in attracting visual attention but also, when used by the child, helps to encourage the use of two hands in coordinated activity.


Two similar sized plastic soft drink bottles
Plastic tubing
Polystyrene cement
Food colouring


1. Ensure bottles are absolutely clean.

2. Fill one bottle to desired level with water. Leave second bottle empty.

3. Add colouring to water

4. Smear inside one end of the tubing and threaded part of the filled bottle neck with polystyrene cement.

5. Place tube over neck of bottle and hold in place until dry.

6. Repeat step 4 and 5 with empty bottle and the other end of the tube.


The sensory impact can be changed by using:
- different sized bottles
- different lengths of tubes
- different amounts of water

or adding:
- various colours and objects to the water
- liquid detergent

[from Make it Simple]

Baytree Sound Track

[from Information Exchange]

Created by Barbara Hase, Baytree School, Weston-super-Mare

List of parts

2 6 ft curtain pole containers (try asking curtain shops for spares)
1 clear plastic tube (had contained scented drawer liners)
1 ribbed squash bottle
4 aluminium food containers (take-away)
3 clear plastic tubes (from packaging)
1 small rectangular box
1 chime bar
Assortment of bells: jingle bell, cow bell, several brass bells (Oxfam), lengths of aluminium tubing (ours were an old set of tubular bells)
2 large marbles

The sound wall was a great success with all ages and levels of ability and prompted much excitement in many of the children. It was very good for encouraging visual tracking and attention as well as listening skills. It also prompted communication. Many of the children were encouraged to sign or ask for 'more', for another go, even when communication was otherwise limited. The sound wall proved to be a good motivator and was used as a reward for some children, as well as an activity in itself. The clear tubes were excellent for allowing the children to track the marbles. There are many things packaged in these clear tubes and it would be worth asking parents and friends to save them. They are light to fix on the wall and fairly durable. The can also be wiped clean.

The various parts for our sound wall toook a few weeks to collect. Any variety or length of tube will do. Once we looked at the parts we had, a few ideas and designs were drawn on paper. An outline of the best one was drawn on the wall board. Following this outline and starting from the top the bits were assembled. Each tube was secured by using a strip of card as a bracket which was stapled to the wall.

After each piece was put in place a 'test run' was needed to see if the angle was steep enough and whether the marble would hit all the musical bits without getting stuck or shooting too fast from one tube to another (and down the corridor!). A certain amount of trial, error and adjustment was needed to get the whole thing to run smoothly, as well as odd bits of card here and there to stop the marble jumping out.

Our sound wall lasted a term before getting a bit worn in places. The aluminium food containers were the least durable part and got rather misshapen from being bumped into or tugged at but the rest was repairable.

I would recommend anyone try making one as the outcome is great fun and costs next to nothing.