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Tools and strategies to support communication, writing and independence for a student who is Blind

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For children who are blind with complex communication needs (CCNs), access to representational language must meet their unique learning needs. Additionally, the system must support both receptive and expressive language as well as promote early literacy development.

Through case study, this paper will highlight an AAC approach to support a child who is blind with CCNs. Working in conjunction with a Specialist Teacher of the Blind, we will review the development of a Tactile Communication framework which encompasses tactile symbols housed on communication boards, used as a point of reference as well as to create tactile sentences and schedules. We will review the many concepts that can be developed with the use of these symbols including language, literacy and sequencing of messages, in addition to highlight current and possible future writing supports used for this student.

We will begin with an overview of what a Tactile Communication Framework is and what type of students benefit from this approach. Through video samples, we will demonstrate the implementation process of this framework in multiple environments, as well as address communication goals, and highlight the student’s learning and growth over several years, including the effect this system had on his verbal communication. We will provide steps on how to get started and share suggestions to customize symbols specific to the student, highlighting both instructional and logistical challenges we encountered along the way. Sample materials will be on display.

Author(s):

Laurel Robinson    
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Communication and Writing Aids Service
Canada

Catherine Ashley    
Toronto District School Board, Special Education and Support Services
Canada

Sheri McClement    
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Communication and Writing Aids Service
Canada

Deborah Velsher    
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Communication and Writing Aids Service
Canada

 

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