Total Communication

Philosophy of using every and all means to communicate with deaf children. The child is exposed to a formal sign-language system (based on English), finger spelling (manual alphabet), natural gestures, speech reading, body language, oral speech and use of amplification, and sometimes cued speech. The idea is to communicate and teach vocabulary and language in any manner that works. Total Communication strives to provide an easy, least restrictive communication method between the deaf child and his / her family, teachers and peers. The child's simultaneous use of speech and sign language is encouraged as is use of all other visual and contextual cues.

PRIMARY GOALS
To provide an easy, least restrictive communication method between the deaf child and his/her family, teachers and peers. The child’s simultaneous use of speech and sign language is encouraged as is use of all other visual and contextual cues.

LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT (receptive)
Language (be it spoken or sign or a combination of the two) is developed through exposure to oral speech, a formal sign language system, speech reading and the use of an amplification system.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE
Spoken English and/or sign language and finger spelling and written English

HEARING
Use of a personal amplification system (hearing aids, cochlear implant, FM system) is strongly encouraged to allow child to make the most of his/her remaining hearing.

FAMILY RESPONSIBILTY
At least one, but preferably all family members, should learn the chosen sign language system in order for the child to develop age-appropriate language and communicate fully with his/her family. It should be noted that a parent’s acquisition of sign vocabulary and language is a long term, ongoing process. As the child’s expressive sign language broadens and becomes more complex, so too should the parents’ in order to provide the child with a stimulating language learning environment. The family is also responsible for encouraging consistent use of amplification.

PARENT TRAINING
Parents must consistently sign while they speak to their child (simultaneous communication). Sign language courses are routinely offered through the community, local colleges, adult education, etc. Additionally, many books and videos are widely available. To become fluent, signing must be used consistently and become a routine part of your communication.

Click here for a complete Communication Options Chart.

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High school senior, Devin, was diagnosed with a severe-profound hearing loss at thirteen months..  She wore hearing aids until receiving a cochlear implant 4 years prior to this filming at age 13.  Devin attended a preschool classroom for Deaf/Hard-of-hearing children where “Total Communication” was used consistently and her parents learned to sign.  She has received her education in a public school setting, with support from a Total Communication based hearing-impaired program that provided her with interpreters and resource assistance as needed.

“My life is normal I do everything…umm…  I mean I love to go shopping … I mean I socialize with a lot of people, kids, people… You know, I mean even though Deaf people, you know, they should all consider their life as “normal” if they would just determine that’s what they want to do.  So just step up and just go out and go shopping, I mean meet new people…Don’t think, “I’m deaf they are going to think I am stupid!”  No, I mean I date…I go out with friends, hang out with my mom, my family, my friends.  I go to high school.  I go to public school.  I’ve been mainstreamed since I was like Kindergarten… whatever…. So I really have a normal life, I would say.”

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Communication Options
Reference Chart
Video Samples

 

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