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Living with Deafblindness

Block alphabet

This system of spelling with capital letters into the palm is more often, but not always, used for people with deafblindness who once had enough vision to see letters and have already developed literacy and spelling skills.

It can be useful for communication about names and places, or as a backup method in noisy environments or where lighting is inadequate.

With the forefinger draw the shape of capital letters onto the palm of the deafblind person’s hand. Use the whole palm for each letter – keeping them large and clear.

Write one letter at at time with the next letter written over the top of the last. Do not attempt to write multiple letters across the palm. Pause slightly at the end of each word to assist the person with deafblindness to keep up with what is being spelt.

Letters should generally be drawn from left to right and from top to bottom. Letters M N and W should be drawn keeping the finger on the palm and not in separate strokes. Numbers can alternatively be drawn as figures. Do not use the Continental (7) as this is easily confused as (2).

Block alphabet showing the strokes and direction to make each letter

The arrows show the way each letter should be formed for consistency and ease of identification. The direction and number of strokes are indicated.

Download the Block alphabet (PDF, 127KB)