Unaided Communication Systems
Gestures, facial expressions, body movement, and vocalizations are the earliest forms of unaided communication. In the framework of the Communication Matrix, these behaviors correspond to the earliest levels of communication. The terms prelinguistic (i.e., prior to language) or presymbolic are often used to describe this form of communication. Many excellent resources to support teams working with students who communicate in this way can be found on the National Center for Deaf-Blindness website. Two of our favorites are listed below.
Manual signing is a more sophisticated form of unaided communication. Individuals who are deaf-blind may use a tactile form of American Sign Language or some individualized set of signs that are not used in the context of a formal language system such as ASL. Instead, signs are single word or short combinations of signs used to sign key words to convey a message. This fact sheet provides guidance to help adults choose conceptually accurate signs for these purposes.