Modes of Communication


When you think of communicating with a Deaf individual you may think of using sign language or lipreading.  These are just two types of communication which can be used.  There are many more methods and not all Deaf individuals choose to communicate in the same way.  Some will change their mode of communication based on who is involved in the conversation.  Knowing what form of communication is preferred for both participants will make understanding easier.

A Deaf individual may prefer to sign ASL with other Deaf individuals but will switch  to signed English when conversing with a hearing person.  Or he might switch to written English with hearing people who do not know sign language.  Some individuals may choose to lipread and speak in one-on-one situations but prefer to sign when possible.  The method of communication depends on the individual and the situation.

Listed below are the most common forms of communication used by Deaf individuals and the resources for additional information.

American Sign Language (ASL)- This is a language used by Deaf individuals in the United States and parts of Canada.  It has a unique grammatical structure and utilizes facial expression and body language as grammatical markers.
A Basic Guide to ASL
ASL Fingerspelling
Handspeak Dictionary

Signed English - There are various forms of signed English.  The common name for these methods is Manually Coded English (MCE).  This refers to any manual form of communication which uses English based signs and English grammar.
For more information

Cued Speech - This method utilizes a series of handshapes placed around the face and mouth in order to show the phonetics of a word.  Since many words look the same on the mouth, this system allows a deaf individual to more easily lipread words because of the incorporated handshapes.
For more information

Oral Method - In this method the deaf individual uses lipreading and voicing.  The success of this method depends on many factors. 
For more information

Rochester Method - This is a method which is based on standard English.  Each word in an English sentence is fingerspelled.  This can be very cumbersome; thus, it is rarely used for everyday communication.

Additional Resources:
Methods of Communication with the Deaf
Methods of Instruction


Deaf Culture
Hearing Aids