Presented by Mary Siggs, Speech and Language Therapist, Royal Blind School
Young people with a severe visual impairment can often find communicating with others as challenging. A lot of the communication we all use is non-verbal. Using facial expression and body language which is not available to the young person. There are quite a few techniques that we can use that will help them in this though.
Can you tell us about what you find difficult when you’re talking to people? If people don’t say your name when they’re talking to you and they just say what do you think about that the you know if there was, if it was in a big class or in a big group of people, like the teacher would just start speaking and they’d just say what, what do you think and you don’t know if they’re talking to you or not. Is there anything difficult about knowing when it’s your turn to talk? It can be quite difficult to know if, if it’s my turn to speak or not. You know if there’s someone speaking to lots of people because I don’t know if they’re looking at me or not but I need to be able to have someone to start speaking to me first and then it’s easier to start talking that way. Sometimes if people go away, if I’ve been talking to them then I don’t know if they’ve gone away. So it’s good when someone says hello when they come to speak to you and then it’s good when someone says bye when they go away.
Is it sometimes difficult to know when people are joking? Because I can’t see other people’s facial expressions or not, it can be quite difficult to tell if people are joking because people normally see that in faces so it can take a bit more time to work out what’s going on and it can be quite difficult because I can’t see their body language as well. You know, how people are really feeling, I can only tell by their voice.
Can it be difficult to know what people are talking about? You might, you might hear people talking about something. You might hear them say like “look at that” or “where did you get that” but you maybe don’t know what it is that they’re talking about. Because I can’t see things round you then you don’t know what it is so you need people to explain what it is that they’re talking about.
As you can see there are several techniques that will help us when we’re talking to the young people but above all remember to relax and be yourself.
So the key points to remember are – always use the young person’s name so they know you’re talking to them. Let them know who is in the conversation, introduce yourself by name and never leave them talking to thin area. Make sure that they know when you leave the conversation.
Find out about Canaan Barrie On-Body Signing.