Classification of methods of communication used by persons with hearing impairment:
The auditory-verbal approach
This is also known as the unisensory mode. The child develops “listening” and speech skills through the use of optimally functioning hearing aids, and auditory training i.e. lip reading is not encouraged. The use of signs is forbidden.  The deaf child develops spoken communication skills just like any other child – that is, through the ears.

The auditory-oral approach
This mode relies on auditory training and the use of hearing aids to develop spoken language. Lip reading is also used but signs are excluded – that is signing is not allowed.

The oral approach
In this mode, lip reading is the primary channel for speech development. Touch is used to perceive acoustic features. Lipreading is also termed “Speech reading.”  It is the art of understanding what the speaker is saying by watching his or her mouth. It is a skill used by many deaf people. Even the best lip reader cannot see everything that is said, since only about 25 % of all speech is visible on the lips.  But lip reading improves when words, phrases and sentences are used in context.
The ability to lipread depends on many factors:
•  Visual acuity
•  The degree of visibility of the letter/word on the speaker’s lips (“f” is easy to see. “h”  in not visible at all).
•  The speaker’s rate of utterance
•  Lighting and distance
•  The fact that some letters/words look the same on the speaker’s lips (e.g. P, B, M)

Training hearing impaired children to use their residual hearing (with the help of hearing aids) along with lip reading improves their lip reading skills.
Other modes of communication:

gesture is a spontaneous manual expression to communicate one’s thoughts.

sign is a gesture which is used consistently to mean the same thing. A “sign” is the manual counterpart of a “word”.

Sign Language is a group of signs joined grammatically (i.e a sentence) to convey meaning. A sign language is the native language of a particular deaf community. In all probability the deaf community of every country has their own sign language.  In the UK, the deaf community uses the British Sign Language (BSL), in the USA the American Sign Language (ASL) is used.  The Austrailian deaf community uses AUSLAN.  The Indian Sign language (ISL) is well established and is used by the deaf community in India.  Sign languages are natural languages and evolve with use.

Sign Language is not written or spoken.  It is a complete language and has its own grammar which is very different from the grammar of spoken languages.
The Indian Sign Language (ISL) is used by the deaf community in India. Interpreters are now being trained.

Finger spelling is the use of hand configurations to represent the letters of the alphabet. Each letter is distinctly represented by a specific hand configuration. In India, two systems of finger spelling are used – the two- handed British system and the one-handed American system but the letters they represent belong to the Roman alphabet. Finger spelling is generally used in combination with sign language, especially to spell proper nouns, technological terms and specialist words for which there are no signs.

A signed language or signing system is very different from a sign language. A signed language is a manual code for a spoken language e.g. signed English or signed Hindi or signed Tamil or Signed Japanese. It is not a different language. It uses signs to follow the grammar of a particular language. In the use of this system each word and word-part including grammatical elements of the language are signed. This sign per word system thus adequately supports the fragments of speech. A signed language is not a natural language. It follows the grammar of an existing language. Therefore a signed language is also known as a signing system.

Combined Communication is the use of
–  a signed language (signing system)
–  hearing aids
–  finger spelling
–  speech
–  lip reading
–  any and all mode of communication which ensures effective communication with hearing impaired people. Combined communication is considered to be a “philosophy incorporating the appropriate aural, manual and oral methods”. The deaf child is taught to perceive the spoken language through a combination the use of hearing aids, lip reading and a signed language.

Head office: No.801, 2A Cross, 8th Main, HRBR 1st Block, Kalyan Nagar, Bangalore 560043 Phone: 080 2545 7124

Vaani, Deaf Children's Foundation is a Registered trust (no.4257) and works towards bringing language and communication into the lives of deaf children and their families across India.