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Living with Deafblindness

Deafblind Manual Alphabet

A deafblind manual alphabet is a tactile alphabet based on a sign language alphabet. Words are spelt onto a deafblind person’s hand. Each letter has its own pattern of touch, movement and location on the hand.  Deafblind Fingerspelling and Tactile Fingerspelling are other names for this system of communication.

  • You can fingerspell on the individual’s left or right hand – check with the individual which hand they prefer
  • 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.

Graphic of hand diagrams, showing each letter of the deafblind alphabet, A to Z