Webinar

Total communication for young deafblind learners

In this webinar: In this session we will explore the Total Communication learning environment in a Deafblind preschool classroom. We will discuss the philosophy of Total Communication, and how we naturally embed different communication methods across activities to accommodate each learner.

In this webinar:

In this session we will explore the Total Communication learning environment in a Deafblind preschool classroom. We will discuss the philosophy of Total Communication, and how we naturally embed different communication methods across activities to accommodate each learner. Various real life examples including pictures, videos and student materials will be shared.

Presenters

  • Headshot of Megan Connaughton

    Megan Connaughton

    Teacher, Deafblind School
  • Amanda Toczylowski

    Teacher, Deafblind School

Speaker Q&A

Do you use Pro Tactile ASL?

No, currently we do not use Protacticle ASL.

What is a story box?

A story box is a way for learners who use whole objects to interact with books. We use real, whole objects that represent the main idea of each page to help build concept development for young learners. We try to avoid using things like fake fruit and stuffed animals whenever possible, however, sometimes that is the best option. Students can use story boxes to learn direct meaning of objects to build and expand vocabulary, or also to work on higher level skills, such as identifying colors and textures. Important note: NEVER use miniatures to represent objects! (i.e. do not use a miniature bus to represent a school bus, rather use a piece of a seatbelt or something meaningful to the individual child in regards to their relationship with the school bus)

How do you create a story box for a concrete communicator when they are in a class reading “brown bear” or “Hungry Caterpillar”…for a CVI student? How do you recommend creating story boxes so they are able to participate in things like circle time?

Brown Bear and Hungry Caterpillar are tough, because for those, you do often have to use stuffed animals and fake food to represent. In Hungry Caterpillar, you could make it a fully immersive experience, using real food that you explore and then cut open with the child to further explore, taste and smell. For Brown Bear, you could emphasize the color of the object (i.e. the RED bird).

You wouldn’t necessarily use a story box for circle, as that is a specific literacy activity tied directly to a book. For circle, we use objects to represent the different vocabulary we are focusing on that month. For example, this month we are exploring gardening, and each student can choose from the “circle bag” and pick a shovel, bag of dirt, seeds, watering can, flower, etc. This is a concrete unit, for more abstract units, such as body parts, instead of students choosing things like fake arms and feet, they choose clothing items that go on each body part, and then we put on the clothes and talk about the body part.

How would you recommend a child with early phase II CVI participate in morning circle – name with song, weather, calendar, counting, color, goodbye song?

Unfortunately without knowing the student personally, we are unable to make student-specific recommendations.

Regarding name symbols during morning circle- would you still use a picture of a child if a child has CVI and there is a complexity of the human face?

On one side of the symbol is the child’s written and braille name, their photo and the name symbol to make it accessible for all students. On the reverse side is just a large piece of the name symbol, so the student is not visually or tactilely overwhelmed by multiple representations.

How do you consider other languages at home when using consistent words for things?

We make sure to use consistent labels at school (shoe vs. sneaker, coat vs. jacket) and relay that information to parents.

Would love to know where to obtain the long, black calendar box as seen in the videos please.

They are custom made from the Assistive Device Center on the Perkins campus. American Printing House does have “Expandable Calendar Boxes” that are the same general idea.

I have concerns about some of these objects in connection with children mouthing everything.

Objects are student specific. You would need to choose objects that are safe and appropriate for your individual student’s use.

For the total communication topic, is it ok to build a calendar with both pictures and real objects for a visual learner who starts to recognize favorite objects in 2D? What I mean is, without going through the real object stage for some cards, is it too soon?

Yes; when a student begins to recognize photos, we do often pair them with the familiar objects as they transition from objects to photos. That way the student still has the opportunity to have concrete representation, and can still use whole objects to learn new concepts.

A little girl that is smiling in the arms of a woman by a fountain.

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