Touch is a vital channel of communication for children at the earliest developmental levels 

● It is the very first sense we acquire as infants, even before birth 

● Learners with the most profound needs are ‘constantly being touched, turned, handled, and placed in a variety of positions’ (Longhorn, 1988), therefore…. 

● Need to consider very carefully how we use touch, valuing and being respectful of the children; using touch in a positive way to support them 

● ‘Touch offers individuals with significant multiple disabilities access to communication’ (Gould and Hummell 1993) 

● In body signing, physical support and guidance must not control or restrain the child at any time.

What is TaSSeLs? click on the link

What is Canaan Barrie signing?

•A language designed for young people with multiple disabilities and visual impairment by Mary Lee and LindiMacWillian, Royal Blind school in Edinburgh.

•Uses “on body signs” 

•Emphasis upon posture, gesture and proximity rather than facial expressions and eye contact. 

The Programme is split into 3 parts

1. Child’s responses to initiation and anticipation through interactive movement

2. Child’s personal gestures are developed

3. Provide an adapted sign vocabulary, which takes into account visual impairment 

Characteristics of Signs 

•Tassel signs have reference points on the body 

•Canaan Barrie signs often give auditory feedback or involve movement close to the child. They do not require complex manipulative skills 

•Reflect everyday routines, needs and interests, use one sign at a time 

Why use ‘on body’ signing? 

•To encourage the understanding of language 

•Brings the adult close to the pupil 

•Makes adults language slower, simpler and clearer 

•Compensates for visual aspects of non-verbal communication body Signs 

•It focuses the pupil on listening 

•Provide tactile cues to the meaning of words 

•Can give an accessible means for expressive communication 

•To encourage the development of spoken language. 

Alerting the Pupil 

•Tassels has an alert sign to prepare the pupil for signing circular motion on left shoulder, right hand on right shoulder, sweep hands down pupil’s arms to their hands 

•Canaan Barrie warns the pupil you are going to sign on their body by gently touching their shoulder 

•Adult must have already established a relationship with the child and need the child’s permission to touch 

Methods of signing 

•Signing is normally carried out in front of pupil 

•On the body 

•Hand under hand, or child holds adults thumbs 

•Co-active signing hand over hand 

Using the signs 

•Use all the signs in the core vocabulary 

•Sign keywords 

•Always accompany signs with speech 

•We must always accept and respond to the child’s personal gestures Always keep in mind…. Please watch this video