Improving Access and Meeting the Communication Needs of
Deaf and VI Children with Complex Needs

Presented in February, 2004

Characteristics of the Adapted Sign Vocabulary

As far as possible signs have a reference point on the body.

Signs have auditory feedback, or involve movements close to the child's face so he is aware of currents of air.

Signs are simplified and do not involve complex manipulative abilities.

Adapted sign vocabulary reflects the everyday routines, needs and interests of the child with visual impairment and additional disabilities.

Methods of Signing

Signing in Front

Start by signing in front as this is the least intrusive method.

Sign close to the child's face so he is aware of movements, air currents and sounds.

Adult's position should take into account the nature and extent of child's visual impairment.

On Body Signing

Proceed carefully, assessing child's reaction.

Make the signs on the child's body where signs permit and when acceptable to child.

Always warn child before starting to sign on body.

"Hands Over" Method

Do not hold or manipulate the child's hands.

Encourage the child to reach out and put her ahnds OVER the adult's (listening hands).

Child can remove hands when she wants. Adult can continue to sign in front.

This is mainly a way of teaching the signs. The adult will be aiming to withdraw hands GRADUALLY.

Many children like to sign with the adult's hands there; it gives them the contact they need in order to know that the adult is 'listening'.

Do not insist on accurary at first.

Reasons for using a signing system

Using the Signs

Use all the signs in Core Vocabulary to create a signing environment.

Sign keywords only in a sentence and always accompany them with speech.

Pay attention to tone of voice and facial expression.

Observe carefully for chld's reaction and respond accordingly.

Continue to accept the respond to chld's personal gestures.

Create a 'signing environment' by using signs throughout the day.

M Lee