A few weeks back, we highlighted to first part in a two-part Webinar hosted by The National Center for Deaf-Blind. In the first webinar, we learned about the foundations of communication. Susan M. Bashinski of Missouri Western State University explains how and what are communication reminders, described the elements of routine and speaks about non-systematic/systematic and non-intentional/intentional communication. If you missed the first part of this webinar series, you can learn more by clicking here.

In the second webinar presented by- Susan M. Bashinski, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator at Missouri Western State University- our new goals consist of

  • Expand on the communication modes for receptive communication
  • Develop non-systematic communication dictionaries 
  • Focus on the aspects of building a  routine with deaf/blind individuals

With the knowledge learned from the former webinar, we were able to get a new perspective on how communication styles are important to the deaf/blind community. Those living with sensory processing disorders simply do things different then those who are able to see and hear clearly. When it comes to Jacob, we notice that he is most comfortable communicating through a mixture of HAPTICS, ASL and leading his caregivers to objects in his environment. Susan starts of reminding us that all learners are able to communicate, either through non-symbolic communication or more nonconventional forms of communication (such as pointing, leading, written communication).
In the second webinar, Susan expands the communication knowledge to to usable concepts for caregivers of individuals who are deaf/blind. 

When a caregiver is learning the communication style of an deaf/blind individual there are a few key points that this webinar discussing on developing a good rapport. First, the hearing individuals need to learn how the deaf/blind individual receives and expresses communication. It is important to remember that the individual does not receives information differently than the way they express it- so the caregiver needs to observe both input and output of communication with the individual they are working with. A caregiver also needs to be able to anticipate how the deaf/blind individual will receive information from an activity- by predicting how they will receive this information they can also guide the individual through their activity and environment. How do we learn from the deaf/blind individual? There is always something to be learned as a caregiver, it is important to observe the individual in a unstructured environment. This means to observe them at home or in a comfortable setting without planned activities- just spending time in their own setting doing what the individual wants. By allowing the deaf/blind individual to lead the caregiver through their daily activities we will be able to learn how they communicate comfortably. Once the caregiver has a foundation of the way a deaf/blind individual communicates, they can start  to establish and work to teach communication signals. As caregivers, it is important to teach and lead the individuals we work with. Susan discusses how the goal of a caregiver is to achieve an equal communication partnership. 

The webinar goes on to talk in detail about the Tri-Focus Model of communication, which focuses on touch que, objective que and augmented input for communication styles. The idea of these is to use a combination of communication styles so that the learner is able to effectively communicate by being less anxious, stressed and comfortable asking for their needs in a conversation. The partner (caregiver) is responsible for providing a positive and consistent response behavior in order to help the individual be expectant of how they can communicate in conversations. 

To learn more about the Tri-Focus Model of Communication, watch the webinar on the National Center for Deaf/Blindess website by clicking here.