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Touch Communication 1 

Richard Kinney 

President, Hadley School for the Blind 


How can others communicate with us through 
the sense of touch? Our success in finding answers 
to this question will determine significantly our 
freedom and our happiness as persons who are deaf 
and blind. 

Little children can show us one way. Toddlers 
take our index finger and point to the thing or 
place in which they are interested. They bring their 
favorite toys and place them in our hands. They 
lead us to the kitchen sink to show that they want 
a drink of water. They pat our hand or climb into 
our laps and give us a hug to show affection. They 
express themselves by gestures and by actions. 

Universal Communication Methods 

Taking his deaf-blind father’s hand, a three- 
year-old boy signals “yes” by moving the hand up 
and down, “no” by moving it back and forth. To 
show pride in some new accomplishment, he seizes 
his father’s wrists and claps his father’s hands 
together as if applauding. If hurt in a fall, he 
brushes his father’s fingertips across a tear-wet 
cheek. If he wants something, he finds ways of 
letting the fact be known! 

Adults, too, can use the language of gesture and 
action, as “the kiss that speaks volumes” happily 
illustrates. If our friends do not instinctively realize 
how thoughtful or time-saving a gesture or action 
can sometimes be, a tactful suggestion on our part 
will usually be welcomed. By a slight, continuing 
pressure on our hand, for instance, a friend can let 
us know he is speaking to someone else in the 
group. The pressure not only saves us from 
interrupting, but also conveys a sense of com¬ 
panionship and assurance that we have not been 
forgotten. 

’Excerpted from Independent Living Without Sight and Hearing 


We can always secure information or even carry 
on a kind of conversation by asking questions that 
can be answered by ar “yes” or “no.” Many 
deaf-blind people interpret one tap as meaning 
“yes,” two taps as “no,” three taps as “I don’t 
know.” Be sure, however that you and the other 
person are in agreement on the meaning of the 
signals, for there is as yet no universally accepted 
standard. A sample interchange by this method 
might be: 

“Nice of you to stop tonight, Mr. Brown, to 
take me to the meeting of the chess club. Is the 
weather good?” 

“No.” 

“Is it raining?” 

“No.” 

“Good heavens, are we having our first snow 
of the winter?” 

“Yes.” 

“Do I need to wear galoshes?” 

“Yes.” 

“Thanks for warning me. The last thing I 
want to do is get wet feet and catch cold.” 

Success with this method depends on asking 
questions in a logical order, beginning with general 
questions and proceeding to particular ones. Be 
sure to avoid double inquiries, such as “Is the room 
too warm or too cool for your comfort?” To 
answer such a question with a yes or no would tax 
the wisdom of Solomon! The tactful questioner 
will also avoid such queries as the famous “Have 
you stopped beating your wife? Answer yes or 
no.” 

Yet for a full-fledged, satisfying conversation, 
we do need communication through words. Unless 
one has received long, arduous, and difficult 
training in reading lips by touch—training available 


299 



at only a very few schools that specialize in the 
teaching of deaf-blind children—the words must be 
spelled out letter by letter. Many and varied 
methods have been worked out by which this can 
be done with surprising speed. Some of the most 
rapid and convenient methods require special 
learning on the part of both the deaf-blind person 
and the person speaking to him. We will consider 
these a little later. Now, however, let us discuss 
some “universal” communication methods that 
almost anyone can use to converse with us 
immediately—provided we ourselves are ready. 

The deaf-blind person who learned to read print 
before losing his or her sight will find the knowl¬ 
edge invaluable. He or she can carry a pocket-sized 
alphabet plate that bears raised print letters easily 
recognized by touch. A friend, an acquaintance, 
even a stranger, can communicate at once simply 
by taking the deaf-blind, person’s index finger and 
placing the tip on the desired letters as words are 
spelled out. The alphabet plate has extra advan¬ 
tages for the deaf-blind person who cannot use his 
or her voice, since he or she can in turn point to 
the raised letters in spelling out his or her own side 
of the conversation. If we have not read print for a 
long time or if we have never read it and must learn 
from the beginning, the alphabet plate offers 
excellent practice. The raised letters are always 
there to be studied or reviewed, and the method 
can be used as slowly as is necessary. 

Once our skill in recognizing print letters is 
adequate, a much faster method than use of the 
embossed alphabet plate becomes possible. The 
person to whom we are talking can simply print 
capital letters—often called block letters—in the 
palm of our hand with the tip of his or her index 
finger. Block letters may be received in either 
hand, depending on which is more comfortable. 
Raise the hand forward, waist-high with elbow 
bent, elbow touching the side, palm up, fingers 
extended together. Ask the other person to print 
capital letters on your palm, making the letters 
large and one after the other on the same spot. 
When both hands are occupied with work, some 
deaf-blind people receive block letters printed on 
the shoulder or back. At least in the beginning, you 
may find print letters easier to recognize if the 
other person holds your own index finger like a 
pencil and prints on a table or in your other hand. 

As with any other communication method, 
printing in the palm takes practice to master. 
Printing in your own palm several times a day will 
help you build skill. The method has the great 
advantage that nearly every sighted person knows 


how to print—and a large number of blind persons 
do, too. Your hand is always with you—on the 
street, on the beach, at work. The method has no 
special equipment to forget or mislay. 

Sometimes the deaf-blind person who lost his or 
her sight in childhood finds printing in the palm 
difficult to learn or to read with speed. What are 
the other methods by which we can take advantage 
of the fact that almost all sighted people are 
familiar with print? 

Alphabet Glove 

One such other method is the alphabet glove—a 
thin, white cotton glove on which the letters of the 
alphabet have been printed with indelible ink at 
definite spots memorized by the deaf-blind wearer. 
The sighted person spells out his or her words by 
touching the letters. With practice, the method can 
become very quick. Because the letters are system¬ 
atically arranged, their positions are easy to memo¬ 
rize. The glove is convenient to carry. Friends who 
use it often will soon find that they have uncon¬ 
sciously learned the locations of the letters, just as 
we have, and thereafter they can use the alphabet 
glove method without a glove! 

With the help of a friend, each of us can provide 
his or her own glove, thereby ensuring a perfect fit. 
The glove is usually worn on the left hand, and the 
wearer extends his or her hand away from himself 
or herself toward the speaker. After we have 
purchased a suitable white cotton glove, the friend 
assisting us should mark it with indelible ink in 
such a way that the print letters appear right side 
up for the person facing the wearer. The letters of 
the alphabet are printed on the palm side of the 




Palm of left hand 


300 



glove and are located on the tips of the fingers, the 
joints of the fingers and the palm of the hand at 
the base of the fingers while the numerals appear 
on the fingernails and knuckles on the back of the 
hand. 

The arrangement of the letters and numerals on 
the glove is systematic and is as follows: 

The Letters 

Extend the left hand with the palm face up. The 
first four letters are located in the line of the 
thumb: 

A—tip of the thumb 
B—first joint of the thumb 
C—second joint of the thumb 
D—palm of the hand at the base of the thumb 
(the section commonly thought of as the 
fleshy part of the thumb) 

The next five letters are located in the line of 
the index finger: 

E—tip of the index finger 
F—first joint of the index finger 
G—second joint of the index finger 
H—third joint of the index finger 

I—palm of the hand at the base of the index 
finger 

The next five letters are located in the line of 
the middle finger: 

J—tip of the middle finger 
K—first joint of the middle finger 
L—second joint of the middle finger 
M—third joint of the middle finger 
N—palm of the hand at the base of the middle 
finger 

The next five letters are located in the line of 
the ring finger; ■ 

O—tip of the ring finger 
P—first joint of the ring finger 
Q—second joint of the ring finger 
R—third joint of the ring finger 
S—palm of the hand at the base of the ring 
finger 

The next six letters are located in the line of the 
little finger: 

T—tip of the little finger 
U—first joint of the little finger 
V—second joint of the little finger 
W—third joint of the little finger 
X—palm of the hand at the base of the little 
finger 


Y—palm of the hand midway between the third 
joint of the little finger and the wrist 

Z—center of the palm 

The Numerals 

\ 

Extend the left hand so that the palm is facing 
down. The first five numbers are located on the 
fingernails: 

1 —thumbnail 

2— nail of the index finger 

3— nail of the middle finger 

4— nail of the ring finger 

5— nail of the little finger 

The next five numbers are located on the 
knuckles: 

6— the first knuckle of the thumb 

7— first knuckle of the index finger 

8— first knuckle of the middle finger 

9— first knuckle of the ring finger 

10—first knuckle of the little finger 

As with printing in the palm, a good way to 
build up speed in using the alphabet glove is to 
practice talking to ourselves, tapping out the words 
on our own hand. Be sure to memorize the 
location of the letters thoroughly before trying the 
glove with others. Blind friends can of course talk 
to us by this method only if they themselves also 
learn the position of the letters. You may be 
pleasantly surprised by the number of people with 
whom you can become “hand in glove!” 

Braille Alphabet Card 

A slow but simple method enables the deaf-blind 
person who can read braille to capitalize on the 
universal familiarity with inkprint of the sighted 
public. This method is the use of the braille alpha¬ 
bet card, a pocket-size card that bears both the 
inkprint and braille alphabet. A sighted friend can 
use the card by placing our index finger tip on the 
braille letter just below the equivalent print letter. 
A blind friend can use it by locating the braille 
letter he or she wishes to indicate and placing our 
finger tip upon it. 

Tellatouch 

Finally, an outstanding communication device 
for the good braille reader is the Tellatouch, a 
small machine resembling a miniature typewriter 
that raises corresponding braille letters under the 
deaf-blind reader’s finger tip as the other person 
types. With practice, the Tellatouch can often be 
read at 60 words a minute or more, and the schools 
teach typing to so many people nowadays that a 


301 



good share of the persons we meet may actually be 
touch typists. Even those who cannot touch type 
are usually at least somewhat familiar with a 
typewriter keyboard and can do reasonably well by 
the famous one-fingered “search and sock” 
method. Further, the Tellatouch seems to appeal 
to a kind of toy instinct in many people, its use 
striking them as an enjoyable sort of game. 
Children love it especially—as do all who are young 
in heart and gadget conscious. To put a new friend 
at ease in using the Tellatouch, we can helpfully 
suggest that the capital sign be omitted for 
simplicity’s sake. We should explain that the braille 
is easier to read if the typist presses the key all the 
way down rather than striking with a sharp, 
staccato motion. A blind friend should be warned 
that the keyboard omits the usual top row of 
numbers. Numbers are best spelled out. Someone 
who knows braille may prefer to use the six 
Braillewriter keys at the bottom of the keyboard 
rather than the typewriter keyboard itself. 



Tellatouch 

To develop our own ability to read the Tella¬ 
touch fluently, we can practice with advantage the 
often-repeated suggestion of talking to ourselves. 
By pressing the keys at random with one hand and 
identifying the rising braille characters with the tip 
of our favorite reading finger on the other hand, 
we can greatly enhance our reading skill with the 
device. 

The Tellatouch is light and portable. It can be 
carried about as easily as a lady carries her 
handbag. Tellatouches are available from the 
American Foundation for the Blind in New York 
at a price well worth the investment. 

Fet us return for a moment to the subject of 
communication by gesture or action. A man’s 
name is to him the sweetest sound in the language 
and the friend who has a special “name sign,” such 


as linking the little fingers, squeezing the shoulder, 
rippling the finger tips across the back of the hand, 
will enjoy saying hello to us at every opportunity. 
By giving our friends clever name signs we can 
promote the beginning of many fine conversations! 

Special Communication Methods 

We have discussed some communication 
methods that we termed universal because almost 
anyone can use them at once in communicating 
with us, provided that we ourselves are skilled in 
their use. Now let us discuss some communication 
methods that are special because their use does not 
require some special learning on the other person’s 
part, no matter how well prepared we who are 
deaf-blind may be. 

The question naturally arises regarding whether 
we should concern ourselves about special methods 
at all. Why not stick to universal ways that others 
can use at once? Will not other people always 
speak to us more often, more readily, and with 
more pleasure if they do not need to learn or 
remember special codes? The questions have a 
point, and some deaf-blind people do indeed rely 
on universal communication methods, certain of 
which, like the alphabet glove or the Tellatouch, 
are capable of impressive speed. Every deaf-blind 
person should definitely know at least one univer¬ 
sal method by which others can communicate with 
him or her immediately. Such knowledge may be 
vital in an emergency. Even in a social sense, we 
will never be able to mingle freely in a group or 
acquire new acquaintances readily unless we have 
at our disposal a communication method that 
others will find rewarding from the start. If we can 
offer others a choice of such methods, so much the 
better. People tend to do again what they enjoy 
doing, and they will enjoy talking with us much 
more if they are offered a variety of methods from 
which to choose their favorite. 

And this is exactly the point to which we have 
been leading. Though agreeing that knowledge of 
universal methods is necessary, many deaf-blind 
people also have one or more special methods they 
find congenial when talking among themselves, 
with members of their families, or with friends 
whom they meet often. The special method may 
be a favorite because of its speed, the warm 
personal hand contacts it involves, the particular 
uses to which it can be put, or simply because it 
seems relaxed and comfortable. Also, experience 
indicates that once a new acquaintance becomes 
sufficiently interested to learn a special method, he 


302 



or she is likely to grow so proud of his or her new 
skill that he or she takes every opportunity to use 
it! 

In the United States, the one-hand manual 
alphabet is the most widely used special method. 
One of its merits is the possibility of flashing 
speed, a factor that has made it a favorite among 
deaf-blind college students. Another advantage is 
that it can be used in almost any position without 
need to look at the hands or to feel for specific 
areas on them. This manual alphabet reflects the 
personality, mood, and emphasis of the speaker to 
a remarkable degree, and the enthusiast who once 
described it as “an aristocrat among peons” may in 
some ways have been justified. 

On the other hand, no pun intended, the 
one-hand manual alphabet is complicated to learn. 
It requires considerable practice to use with speed 
and even more practice to read with facility. 
Anyone with stiff joints or arthritic fingers will 
experience difficulties. Further, the one-hand 
manual alphabet is subject to many small variations 
from person to person. Two people, both of whom 
feel they know the system well, often find it 
necessary to go through the alphabet together for a 
brief comparison of letters before they can con¬ 
verse readily. Though the manual as used by 
deaf-blind persons in the United States is based on 
the system as employed by the sighted deaf, the 
latter form their letters in the air for visual reading 
and preliminary explanation of how to form them 
in the hand is often helpful. 

The One-Hand Manual Alphabet 

The listener places his or her hand lightly over 
(some prefer under) the speaker’s hand to feel the 
position of the speaker’s fingers. The speaker 
should be careful to move the fingers directly from 
the position of one letter to the next and to pause 
briefly between words. The listener should keep his 
touch as light as possible and avoid “strangling” 
the speaker’s fingers in the manner of an affection¬ 
ate octopus. 

The position of the hand, unless otherwise 
specified, is up with the palm turned away from 
the speaker. The elbow should point down, the 
shoulder should be relaxed, and most of the action 
should be from the wrist through the fingers. 

A—Fold the four fingers flat against the palm 
and point the thumb up, holding it tightly 
against the bent index finger. 

B—Point the four fingers straight up, holding 
them tightly together, and bend the thumb 
across the palm. 


C—Holding the four fingers together, curve them 
downward and curve the thumb upward 
toward the tip of the bent index finger (looks 
like a print C). 

D—Point the index finger straight up and make a 
circle with the tip of the middle finger and 
the thumb. The fingers are curved tightly 
together. 

E—Bend the thumb across the palm and place 
the tips of the four fingers tightly together 
along the upper edge of the thumb. 

Stop at this point and review. Actually make the 
letters with your right hand. Spell in the air when 
practicing alone. Practice the words in the follow¬ 
ing list, all of which can be spelled from letters 
you’ve already learned: bed, bad, dad, ace, decade, 
ebbed, beaded, cede, cad, bade. 

F—Bend the index finger forward. The other 
three fingers and the thumb point straight up. 
Hold the fingers tightly together and place the 
thumb against the second joint of the index 
finger. 

G—Drop the hand by bending the wrist so that 
the hand is horizontal and the palm inward. 
Point the index finger and the thumb, curling 
the other three fingers into the palm (the 
thumb and index finger nearly touching). (G 
may stand for the gun that you appear to be 
pointing). 

H—This letter is made exactly like G except that 
the middle finger also is pointing, held tightly 
against the index finger. 

I—Make a fist and point the little finger straight 
up. 

J—Starting with I, bring the tip of the little 
finger down and then up to the left in a hook, 
moving the whole hand from the wrist. (You 
are drawing the letter J.) 

Time to review again. Spell the following words 
in the air, checking for accuracy whenever in 
doubt: fig, feed, head, high, jab, ice, each, chef, 
beached. We are chewing the one-hand manual 
alphabet a mouthful at a time to prevent 
indigestion. 

K—Point the index and middle fingers straight 
up, separated. Place the tip of the thumb 
between the two fingers at the base. The ring 
and little fingers are curved into the palm. 

L—Point the index finger straight up and thumb 
at right angles to it. The other fingers are 
curved into the palm. 


303 




M—Holding the little finger down with the tip of 
the thumb, bend the index, middle and ring 
fingers over the thumb, holding them tightly 
together and pointing downward. 

N—N is made exactly like M except that the ring 
and little fingers are held down with the tip of 
the thumb and only the index and middle 
fingers are bent over the thumb. 

O—Make a circle with the four fingers and the 
thumb by placing the tip of the thumb against 
the tip of the index finger, holding the four 
fingers tightly together. 

After reviewing the last five letters and any 
earlier letters about which you may feel qualms, 
spell in the air the following words: look, moon, 
balloon, knee, moan, and, foam, diamond, benefi¬ 
cial, bleak, and macaroni. The alphabet has been 
divided at various times into groups of similar 
letters, with somewhat mixed results. Some 
learners thought the grouping of similar letters 
helped them memorize. Others felt the system 
merely gave them one more thing to keep track 
of—that is, which letters are in which groups. In 
this paper we are presenting the letters in squads of 
five, each squad followed by appropriate practice 
words, and the result should be straightforward, 
morale-boosting progress from A through Z. 

P—By bending the wrist slightly, drop the hand 
halfway, extended away from self with the 
palm turned down. Point the index finger out 
and the middle finger down. Place the ball of 
the thumb against the first joint of the middle 
finger and curl the ring and little fingers into 
the palm. 

Q—Q is made exactly like G except that the 
whole hand is pointing downward and the 
thumb and index finger are slightly more 
separated. 

R—Make a fist with the index and middle fingers 
pointing up—middle finger crossed over index 
finger. 

S—Make a fist with the thumb across the front 
of the fingers to touch the second joint of the 
ring finger. 

T—Make a fist with the tip of the thumb 
pointing up between the index and middle 
fingers. 

U—Make a fist with the index and middle fingers 
pointing up straight, holding them tightly 
together. 

We have added a bonus sixth letter to the usual 
group of five this time—and for excellent reason. 
How often could we use Q in spelling a word if we 


do not also know how to sign U? After reviewing 
the letters in this fourth group, spell in the air the 
slightly bizarre thought: Peter Piper quaffed a 
quart of simple mountain seal oil. 

V—Mdke a U with the index and middle fingers 
separated (looks like a letter V). 

W—Point the index, middle, and ring fingers up, 
holding them separated, and curl the thumb 
and little finger into the palm (looks like a 
letter W). 

X—Make a fist and raise the index finger by 
straightening it at the knuckle joint but 
keeping it bent at the other two joints to look 
like a hook. 

Y—Point the little finger and thumb up straight 
with a slight outward slant. The other three 
fingers are bent down. 

Z—Make a fist and point the index finger. With 
the tip of the index finger, draw a zigzag as 
follows: make a horizontal stroke from left to 
right, a diagonal stroke down to the left, and 
a horizontal from left to right. Imagine your 
index finger printing the letter Z. 

Which letters of the one-hand manual alphabet 
resemble print? After reviewing the last five letters, 
spell in the air: a fox, a walrus, and a young 
zebra—just the kind of company I’ve always 
wanted on an exciting night in Paris. 

There are almost as many ways of reading or 
listening to the one-hand manual as there are 
people to read or listen. Some prefer to have the 
letters made straight down into the palm. Some 
like to touch the back of the speaker’s hand with 
both of their own hands. The right method is the 
one that proves to you to be the clearest, most 
comfortable, most rapid, and least likely to cause 
misunderstanding or to require repeats. 

The one-hand manual alphabet is a challenge to 
each of its users. Like a spirited horse, it needs to 
be mastered through individual patience and skill. 

The Two-Hand Manual Alphabet 

In Great Britain and in most other English- 
speaking countries except the United States, the 
two-hand manual alphabet is the most popular 
special communication method. The descriptions 
“one-hand” and “two-hand” refer to the ways in 
which the letters are made. With the former, the 
speaker forms a complete letter with his or her 
hand and the hand of the listener is expected to 
recognize it. With the latter, both the speaker’s 
hand and the listener’s hand are essential to form a 
letter, though the listener’s hand remains open and 


305 



perfectly quiet. The distinction is at best somewhat 
technical and need not detain us here. Many users 
of the one-hand manual, for instance, actually 
blend the two ways of reading. 

The two-hand manual alphabet has certain very 
real advantages to offer. It is simpler, easier to 
learn, perhaps easier to read. The fact that many of 
the letters resemble print letters is a memory aid to 
friends with normal sight. The greater simplicity of 
the letters means fewer variations from person to 
person in the way the letters are formed. Though 
the two-hand manual alphabet does not usually 
lend itself to such dazzling speech as a few have 
attained with the one-hand manual alphabet, it 
does offer a reasonable pace for most and is 
especially kind to anyone with stiff fingers. As one 
often-dated, deaf-blind coed who knows both 
manuals demurely put it: “I choose my manual to 
suit my man.” 

Ideally, the speaker should sit beside the 
listener, to the listener’s left. He or she should take 
the listener’s left hand, resting the back of it on his 
or her own left palm. The speaker then makes the 
letters with his or her own right hand on the 
listener’s left hand in the following ways: 

The five vowels, A E I O U, are indicated by tap¬ 
ping the listener’s fingertips in this order: 
thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, 
and little finger. 

B—The fingers are bunched so that the tips meet 
in an irregular ring and placed in that form in 
the palm of the hand. 

C—The index finger makes a circular flick along 
the inner side of the thumb and along the 
curve between the thumb and the index 
finger, finishing at the tip of the index finger. 

D—The tip of the index finger touches the tip of 
the listener’s index finger, while the tip of the 
thumb touches the base of the index finger. 

F—The index and middle fingers are placed close 
together at right angles across the index 
finger. 

G—The fist is clenched and placed in the palm, 
with thumb in highest position and little 
finger on the palm. 

H—The palm of the speaker’s hand is moved 
swiftly across the listener’s palm. (The motion 
suggests the breathy sound of H.) 

J—The tip of the index finger touches the tip of 
the middle finger and strokes down it to the 
base. 

K—The index finger is bent, palm turned down, 
and the bent second joint touches the second 
joint of the listener’s index finger. 


L—The index finger is laid across the palm. 

M—The first three fingers, touching, are laid 
across the palm. 

N—The first two fingers, touching, are laid 
across the palm. 

P—The tip of the index finger is lightly held by 
the tip of the index finger and thumb. (This 
letter is simply a pinch of the tip of the index 
finger.) 

Q—The index finger is placed in the fork 
between the index finger and the thumb and 
hooked round the base of the thumb. 

R—The index finger is bent and laid across the 
palm. 

S-The index finger is bent and linked with the 
little finger. 

T—The tip of the index finger should touch the 
edge of the palm at the side farthest from the 
thumb. 

V—The index and middle fingers are separated as 
far as possible and laid across the palm. 

W—The palm of the hand is laid fiat across the 
fingers and the fingers are bent over and 
round the fingers. 

X—The index finger is laid at right angles across 
the index finger. 

Y—'The index finger is placed in the joint 
between the thumb and the index finger. 

Z—The tips of the fingers in a row touch the 
middle of the palm. 

The speaker should pause briefly between 
words. If both speaker and listener are familiar 
with contracted braille, abbreviations may be used. 
However, when a really good rate of speech has 
been worked up in either the one-hand or two- 
hand manual alphabet methods, most people find 
that abbreviations cause more confusion than they 
are worth. One exception is to abbreviate a long 
name by using just its first syllable, such as 
abbreviating Mr. Nuttingham into Mr. Nut. Obvi¬ 
ously, even here there is danger if the deaf-blind 
person habitually shortens his spoken speech to 
match the abbreviation! 

The International Morse Code 

The International Morse Code merits discussion 
in this chapter because it will prove itself invalu¬ 
able in connection with the telephone. Even as a 
straightforward communication method among 
persons within touching distance of one another, 
the International Morse Code has the advantage of 
being inconspicuous, applicable to any part of the 
body, potentially rapid, and familiar to many Boy 
and Girl Scouts, members of the Armed Forces, 


306 



and amateur radio operators. At its simplest, the 
dash is merely a stroke with the tip of the index 
finger, the dot a tap. When written in braille, 
braille dot 1 is used for the code dot and braille 
dots 1 and 4 are used for the dash. 


A — 

B 

C - 

D — 

E • 

F 

G- 

H •••■ 

I •• 

J - 

K- 

L 

M — 


N — 

O — 
P - 

Q - 

R — 

S - 
T - 
U •— 

V — 

w- 

X - 

Y - 

z - 


Our Response 

Since conversation is a two-way affair, we must 
have something to contribute. The man or woman 
who is deaf, blind, and mute has an extra challenge 
to overcome in carrying on successful 
communication—and many such people have 
shown heartwarming resourcefulness in doing so. 

In the first place, one can often convey one’s 
thoughts in writing. A pencil and pad are handy if 


one knows penmanship. Messages can be typed on 
file cards and labeled in braille for use in later 
situations, as when traveling. In fact, many deaf- 
blind people with clear speaking voices find file 
cards bearing typed addresses or instructions a 
good thing to carry when they wish to make 
doubly sure they are understood. Several very 
small portable typewriters are now produced that 
will even fit into a suitcase. For braille-reading 
friends, the Perkins or Lavender Braillers, the 
miniature Banks Pocket Writer that brailles on a 
thin ribbon of paper, and the ordinary pocket 
braille slate and stylus offer resources. 

Printing in the air, manualing in the air, and 
pointing to the letters on a braille or raised-print 
alphabet board are practical methods. Others must 
necessarily spell out their words to us. Those of us 
who cannot speak must simply spell right back to 
them in the clearest and most mutually congenial 
way. 

Each person’s voice is distinct, a product of his 
or her physique, personality, background, and 
special problems. Regarding our individual 
strengths and weaknesses, we can ask for candid 
opinions from our friends. We may also profit from 
discussing specific speech problems with profes¬ 
sional speech therapists or with deaf-blind persons 
who have done notable work in building their own 
voices. 

The author of this will now stop and read what 
he has written—aloud. Nothing does more for a 
voice than daily reading aloud. 


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