Deafblind Awareness Week: Object Cues

As part of deafblind week June 24th  our MSI Outreach Services Team have put some information on supporting deafblind learners with their communication needs.  Individuals who are deafblind use touch to access their world and those who have some functional vision and hearing it suppots making sense of those interactions.  They develop their understanding of the relationship of these objects to their environment, to anticipate and then to use them to communicate.  There are many tactile communication methods to support deafblind to interact with their world.

Total Communication: In typical developing learners for them to understand and then to use expressively they need to hear a word 1,000 times before they are able to use it. DB learners need to hear, see or feel gestures, objects, signs or words many times before they can understand receptively or use expressively. 

Deafblind learners use touch to explore their world.  Through touch they interact with people and as trust and a secure base develops.  As this trust is formed routines are established and interactions with objects happen in a natural way.  This exploration now begins to extend outwards into their environments. 

Consistent routines is a beginning for deafblind learners to use touch to explore objects meaningfully and understand the relationship of those objects to their routine.  Through repetitions of the routines the DB learner may begin to anticipate the routine through cues.  Anticipation of events begin to develop through exploration of the objects used in the routine and these become a cue to communicate the event.  The learner begins to explore the objects together with their communication partner.  Coactively they explore the different physical properties and begin to build mental representations of the object through touch.  

When deciding what Object cues to use with the DB learner it is important to select objects that they are interested in and will be able to discriminate one from the other.  As their communication partners we need to observe what are they exploring and they find interesting.  In order to do this we may set up a Prep for Learning Box which has objects that are used in the routine.  These are conversation boxes which the communication partner and learner explore coactively.  Over the weeks observations will support the communication partner to determine what the learner finds interesting to explore through touch.  This establishes into choosing the Object Cue for the activity.

The objects used in the routine are called OBJECT CUES.  These are concrete piece of a routine that represents the routine.  Examples of Object cues are spoon, coat, school bag, a shopping bag etc.  They learn to know what it is from the repeated routines and because they are used functionally in the activity. OBJECT CUES are real objects and are paired with the routine so they stand for a LABEL for the activity.  Objects that are given to the learner to play with or use are NOT object cues.

Every week Aly goes shopping and she had a prep for learning box with objects related to her shopping activity.  She would explore each item coactively with her Intervenor before going shopping.  This supported her to prepare for the shopping activity.  Her Intervenor observed her interest with the shopping bag each week.  This has now turned into her Object Cue for the activity.  Now Aly is given the shopping bag and this prepares for her visit to the shops.

Prep for learning Box

Object Cue

Object cues can be used to identify people and these are called personal identifiers.  They represent different people to be identified through touch. 

Personal Identifiers