By Maurice Belote, CDBS Project Coordinator Individuals who have limited or no functional use of their vision and hearing are often unable to understand what is about to happen to them. Touch cues are used to help individuals who are deaf-blind compensate for the auditory and visual cues they cannot access. Think for a minute about the information that infants and toddlers with typical vision and hearing gather naturally: they constantly scan the environment for any information that will help them prepare—physically and mentally—to respond. When a parent walks into a room wearing typical activities of children of early age coat and holding car keys, the child learns over time what this means and understands that a transition into the car seat will occur.
Because children who are deaf-blind may miss these auditory and visual cues, they may be living in a constant state of uncertainty. Touch cues are physical cues that are used in a consistent manner on the child or adult’s body to give a specific message about what is about to happen to the person. In most cases, the touch cue will be at or near the body part that will be affected and, if the touch cue is used to prepare the child for movement, the touch will give the child information about the direction their body will move. The following are examples of commonly used touch cues. It is also important that the touch cues developed for a specific individual are clearly explained in the individual’s personal communication dictionary. This will help ensure consistency among team members.
Contact any CDBS staff member for help with implementing touch cues or other tactile cues. 25 on how to create a personal communication dictionary. Fact sheets from California Deaf-Blind Services are to be used by both families and professionals serving individuals with dual sensory impairments. The information applies to students 0-22 years of age. The purpose of the fact sheet is to give general information on a specific topic. More specific information for an individual student can be provided through individualized technical assistance available from CDBS.
After a workshop session on cultural awareness, I was asked, “Does this really matter? Will adding skin-tone crayons make a difference in children’s lives? Yes,” I said, “skin-tone crayons help a child become aware of who he is and who others are. Before that, however, we have a good chance to help children develop positive feelings about their racial and cultural identity.
We can also challenge the immature thinking that is typical of very young children. As these three factors interact, young children progress through certain stages of racial and cultural awareness. In this article, we’ll talk first about the stages of racial awareness. Then we’ll give you some ideas for activities that will help children accept themselves and others. The foundation of self-awareness is laid when children are infants and toddlers. At these stages, children learn “what is me” and “what is not me.