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Living with Deafblindness

Deafblind Manual Alphabet

The deafblind manual alphabet is a tactile alphabet adapted from a signed (sign language) alphabet. The method of spelling out words onto a person with deafblindness’ hand, with each letter denoted by a particular pattern and location on the hand, is called Deafblind Manual.  Deafblind Fingerspelling and Tactile Fingerspelling are other names for the same system.

  • You can fingerspell on the individual’s left or right hand – check with the individual which hand they prefer to use
  • Avoid gripping the individual’s wrist, rather support their wrist with your open hand underneath
  • Check whether a sitting or standing position suits both of you and the situation
  • Comfort and support of both of you is very important

Deafblind Manual Alphabet

Auslan 26 letter English version

Below is the alphabet used in the BANZSL group of sign languages.  It has been used in British Sign Language and Auslan since at least the 19th century, and in New Zealand Sign Language since the 1970’s.  Variations of this alphabet is used in some dialects of Indo-Pakistani Sign Language.

Other forms of manual deafblind alphabet are used around the world – eg. The Lorm Deafblind Manual Alphabet (Belgium).  In some countries, eg. Sweden, the one-handed alphabet used is modified by applying the shape of the letter into the hand of the person who is deafblind at a different angle, making the shape easier to feel.

A diagram of hands demonstrating each letter of the Australian Deafblind Alphabet

In each diagram the purple hand represents the hand of the person with deafblindness, the receiver of the message. The white hand represents the person who is fingerspelling, the sender of the message.