Interpreters, Orientation and Mobility Instructors for DeafBlind people


What is a Deafblind Interpreter, Guide and Orientator?

There isn’t one standard way of communicating and deafblind people communicate in various ways. Communication preferences for people who are deafblind may involve the use of a combination of methods that have been adapted depending on:

  • Personal preference
  • Whether the individual is congenitally deafblind or they have acquired dual sensory loss
  • The extent to which the person’s vision and/or hearing is affected
  • Acquisition of language

BSL video version of the page

BSL & Lipspeaker video versions of the page​

Deafblind Guide

Some Deafblind people need some assistance from someone else to get around; this is known as guiding. People like to be guided in many different ways; some like a lot of close contact and others won’t. The three most common grips to use when guiding are:

  • Linked arm grip, the deafblind person links their arm through yours
  • Holding elbow grip, the deafblind person holds your arm just above the elbow
  • Hand on shoulder grip, the deafblind person places their hand on your shoulder

Deafblind Interpreter

A ‘Deafblind Interpreter’ is a BSL Interpreter who holds additional deafblind qualifications, who acts as a communication link between the deafblind person and other people, using the deafblind person’s preferred method of communication. This can be:

  • Hands on interpreting
  • Tracking
  • Visual Frame Signing
  • DeafBlind Manual
  • Block (Capital letters drawn on the palm)
  • Tadoma

Deafblind Orientation and Mobility Support

Orientation and mobility is a term that is used when referring to our ability to find our way or navigate our environment and being mobile with the physical ability to move about safely.

A person with little or no vision can negotiate their environment if they are familiar with the layout of the room or building and placement of fittings and furniture within. In an unfamiliar environment a person may need sighted guide support including and understanding of spatial awareness and developing a directional sense,

Orientation and Mobility Instructors can train people in building confidence using their remaining senses and learning techniques and strategies to get themselves around safely with or without a mobility aid.

Lipspeaker UK have trained staff who can help to orientate you to a new place of work or unfamiliar areas at work.

  • How to move about safely with or without a cane or guide dog
  • Walking in and out of train, tube or bus stops
  • Known cycle paths, street signage
  • Following the same routes and different routes to, from and around an office to build up a ‘map’
  • Negotiate any automatic doors, escalators and moving walkways
  • Location of lifts, canteen, rest rooms etc
  • Location of fire exits, stairs and emergency help points
  • Linked arm grip, the deafblind person links their arm through yours
  • Holding elbow grip, the deafblind person holds your arm just above the elbow
  • Hand on shoulder grip, the deafblind person places their hand on your shoulder

NRCPD Registered

All of our Deafblind Communicators are qualified and registered with The National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCDP). They follow a Code of Conduct, have an up to date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), hold Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) and are subject to a complaints procedure.

Interpreter for DeafBlind People Badge

Let the team at Lipspeaker UK help to build your confidence and independence getting around.

Top Tips For Working With A Deafblind Guide & Deafblind Communicator

Guiding a deafblind person 

On meeting a deafblind person, a Deafblind Guide will:

  • Introduce themself and ask if the person would like to be guided and if so, which side they would like you to be on.
  • Agree how to guide up/down stairs/escalators and lifts
  • Let the Deafblind person take an arm or shoulder
  • Consider the person’s age and whether they have any other disabilities
  • Walk at the speed of the person they are guiding
  • Keep the deafblind person informed about the environment
  • When they have finished guiding, inform the Deafblind person that they are leaving (they will never just walk away)
  • Keep hands soft and still if the conversation is ongoing
  • Agree simple short cuts or haptics when possible

Communicating with a deafblind person

On meeting a deafblind person, a Deafblind Communicator will:

  • Always touch her/his hand gently to get their attention.
  • Move in front of her/him, touch her/his arm gently and move back a little further to sign slowly in a fixed range at the level of her/his vision
  • Ask the deafblind person for their preferred method of communicating.
    • Visual Frame
    • Hands-On
    • Clear speech
    • Deafblind manual alphabet
  • Negation and affirmation should not be confirmed with the head nod or shake
  • Clothing should be plain and dark- purples and greens are a kind colour to wear
  • Check lighting and for shadows
  • Direct questions from others to the deafblind person
  • If the deafblind person is eating or drinking, allow time to clean hands before communicating
  • Inform the deafblind person of any other people who are in the vicinity who may be able to see visual communication
  • Be patient- repeat, rephrase as necessary
  • Do not tap their back, arm or shoulder as this can cause alarm
  • Do not assume the deafblind person remembers you
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