The DPAC environment strives to embody a rich, flexible and diverse culture of communication. It is responsive to the receptive and expressive communication requirements of participants, instructors, consultants and the larger community. Communication is critical for DPAC participants, and their staff must be a good match for participant strengths and needs. Staff and consultants utilize diverse levels of hearing and deaf cultures, identity, communication and expertise. Therefore, ASL/English Interpreters are hired for staff meetings, trainings, and consultant/staff discussions. Interpreters are also used with RCEB representatives, evaluators, parents who don’t know ASL.
Consumer Communication Overview
Participant communication is impacted by individual consumer’s sensory strengths and deficits, their exposure to signed and/or spoken and/or visual modes of communication, as well as developmental (or other) disabilities and behavior issues. Some consumers may used specialized systems like PECS, computer based communication, etc.
A deaf participant who has minimal hearing and can see may have gestures, non-verbal communication, may have limited to good sign language, depending on exposure to deaf people and sign language. S/he needs an Instructor who can understand his/her visual/kinesthetic communication; who can encourage and teach signs or Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).
A blind/low vision participant who is deaf has severely limited sight and little/no functional hearing. Communication may depend on whether s/he has or had more hearing or more sight. For one who grew up blind, there may be some speech, likely not clear (would need a worker who can hear and learn to interpret his/her sounds.) For a consumer who grew up deaf or was exposed to sign, expressive communication may be gestures, signs, likely idiosyncratic. Receptive communication may be tactile signs, other tactile methods, may make use of residual sight. S/he needs a worker who can gesture, sign, tactile sign, learn the consumer’s ways.
A hard of hearing blind/low vision participant has limited hearing and sight; may have some degree of expressive and receptive speech and/or sign. S/he needs a worker who can work with his/her verbal and gestured/signed communication.
A hard of hearing participant has limited auditory receptive communication, likely has limited expressive signed gestures or ASL, and might have some receptive gestured or limited signed communication. S/he needs a worker who can speak, hear, gesture and sign.