There are a range of literacy issues which arise from dual sensory disability; however as with the general community, literacy standards within the deafblind community vary enormously.
Where Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is the first language, there may be difficulty reading and writing in English. If people are blind and don’t know Braille, all their information is gathered audibly and this can result in poor spelling. Conversely, if they know Braille or have had good hearing or good sight, their literacy may be of a very high standard. People with deafblindness use a range of communication techniques. An ability to communicate is essential. Communication can be facilitated through the use of an interpreter, note taker or both. The communication styles vary.
Auslan is widely used and often a deafblind person uses a modified Auslan within a confined body area relevant to useful vision, called visual field signing. Where vision is no longer useful, the deafblind person will modify Auslan further and read it back using tactile sign where they place their hand over the hand of the signer to feel the signs. If Auslan is not the first language the deafblind person may communicate by spelling the alphabet into the palm of a person’s hand and this is called deafblind finger spelling. Some people with deafblindness have sufficient hearing to enable them to speak and they usually have hearing aids. In a learning situation some may prefer to communicate with typing on a computer, even using a Chat program. Email and Internet access are removing the barriers to information and making it easier for people with deafblindness to access courses in higher education and community settings. Communication is possible with email or even sms text.
The interpreter must be sensitive to the needs of people who are Deafblind.
and make adaptations to their signing to ensure the student can “read” what they are saying.