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What is Communication?

When working with children who are deafblind, it's important to keep in mind that communication is much broader than spoken or signed language.

It's also gestures, movements, facial expressions, and much more. For most people, communication develops naturally throughout childhood as we see, hear, and interact with others, but children who are deafblind have limited opportunities to participate in conventional communication. They require accommodations and intensive, individualized instruction to maximize their communication skills.

Concept Development

As you will see as you explore the resources on this website, communication development and concept development go hand-in-hand. This is not only because concepts—people, places, objects, activities, feelings—are the content of communication, but also because relationships and interactions with others form the foundation for concept development.

Communication Bill of Rights

Communication Bill of Rights

Two young women sit facing each other. They are conversing using tactile sign language.

Communication Bill of Rights

All people with a disability of any extent or severity have a basic right to affect, through communication, the conditions of their existence.

Read the Communication Bill of Rights

What do we mean by communication? Our first response may be that communication is the use of words in a formal language structure. But communication is more—much, much more. It is the means by which people connect with their environment and with other people. Communication is the way we reach out to each other; it is the way we “touch” each other. Through communication, we connect in the most meaningful sense of the word. Communication is connection. (Miles, B., 1999, p. 10)

Learn More

Understanding Communication Principles (OHOA Module)

Offline Resource

Book chapter: Miles, B. (1999). What is communication? In B. Miles & M. Riggio, Remarkable Conversations: A Guide to Developing Meaningful Communication With Children and Young Adults Who Are Deafblind (pp. 8-19). Perkins. 


Miles, B. (1999). What is communication? In B. Miles & M. Riggio, Remarkable conversations: A guide to developing meaningful communication with children and young adults who are deafblind (pp. 8-19). Perkins. 

Miles, B., & McLetchie, B. (2008). Developing concepts with children who are deaf-blind. National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness.


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