Adapted Interactive Tactual Sign Language (AITSL)[i]

The hand over hand sign language most often used with congenitally deafblind individuals.


American Sign Language (ASL)[ii]

Is a visual language with its own syntax and grammar, distinct from English, used by Deaf people in Canada and the United States.  Meaning is conveyed through signs that are comprised of specific movements and shapes of the hand and arm, eyes, face, head and body posture.  In Canada, there are two main sign languages:  ASL and la langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ).


American Sign Language (ASL) – English Interpreters[iii]

American Sign Language (ASL) – English Interpreters facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people.


American Sign Language (ASL) – Tactile[iv]

Tactile American Sign Language - The person who is deaf-blind receives communication with his/her hands resting on another individual's hand while the message is being signed.


Adapted ASL[v]

ASL can be adapted to meet the specific visual needs of individuals who are deafblind. Adapted ASL generally requires a restricted signing space, which may affect sign location and movement. Information is usually signed with one dominant hand, and may include tactile signs and fingerspelling. Adapted ASL also requires an awareness of potential visual limitations in the environment. For example, when the lighting changes in a room, the individual who is deafblind may no longer be able to see signs in a restricted sign space and prefer to receive tactile ASL. 



This is an alternative format for people who are blind or deafblind. Braille is a tactile system of raised dots representing letters or a combination of letters of the alphabet. Braille is produced using Braille transcription software.



A Communicator provides sign language, interpreting, and/or communicator services, where required, for Deaf adults who have a developmental delay, mental health issues and/or low language skills.  The communication will match the language level of the individual.


Core Competencies[viii]

A competency is any skill, knowledge, behaviour or other personal characteristic that is essential to perform the job and that differentiates outstanding from typical performers.  Competencies are what outstanding performers do more often, in more situations, and with better results than typical performers.  There are two types of competencies:  behavioural and technical.  Behavioural competencies are the behaviours a person demonstrates in applying their knowledge and skills on the job.  Technical competencies are what a person needs to know and be able to do (knowledge and skills) to perform the job.  Technical competencies are necessary to perform the job role; however, they are not the differentiating factors of performance.  While each is important, it is the behavioural competencies that truly differentiate superior from average performers.


Deafblindness [ix]

§  Deafblindness is a distinct disability. Deafblindness is a combined loss of hearing and vision to such an extent that neither the hearing nor vision can be used as a means of accessing information to participate and be included in the community.


§  Acquired Deafblindness[x]

Acquired deafblindness is a description applied to people who experience both vision and hearing loss later in life.  Losses may occur at separate times or may occur simultaneously.  They may also be progressive.


§  Congenital Deafblindness[xi]

Congenital deafblindness is a description applied to people who are born with both hearing and visual loss or who became deafblind before developing symbolic language.


§  Individual Differences in Deafblindness[xii]

Individuals who are deafblind are not a homogenous group.  The common factor is a loss of vision and hearing that gives rise to issues over access to information, communication, and mobility.  Because of the diversity within the group, organizations must provide a continuum of intervenor services to meet the unique needs of each individual.


Deaf Interpreter (DI)[xiii]

A Deaf interpreter uses American Sign Language, gesture, and/or other communication strategies to facilitate communication between a Deaf consumer, a hearing consumer, and a hearing interpreter.  A Deaf interpreter is a Deaf individual who has native or near-native fluency in American Sign Language, who has interpreting experience, and who has taken specialized training.  

A Deaf interpreter will function as a member of the interpreting team.  A Deaf interpreter may be needed if a Deaf person uses signs that are:  particular to a region or age group, has minimal or limited communication skills, has had their communication hindered or altered because of sickness or injury, or uses non-standard ASL or gestures.



The process of acquiring a certificate, diploma, or degree, through a college and/or university program.

Intervenor Services[xv]

Intervenor services provide the person who is deafblind with accurate information in an appropriate manner to enable them to make choices, plan future actions, communicate successfully, navigate their environment and achieve as much independence as possible. Intervenor services are responsive to the changing needs of the person who is deafblind.



“An intervenor…facilitates the interaction of the person who is deafblind with other people and the environment. The intervenor provides information about the environment and what is happening (using receptive language), assists the individual who is deafblind to communicate (using expressive language), provides or develops concepts where necessary, confirms actions, assists with life skills and most importantly, assists the individual to achieve as much independence as possible within their situation. The intervenor takes direction from the individual who is deafblind.”


Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ)/Quebec Sign Language[xvii]

LSQ is a visual language with its own grammar and syntax, distinct from French, used by Deaf people primarily in Quebec and other French Canadian communities. sign language used in Canada and most LSQ users are located in Quebec.  LSQ is a combination of American Sign Language and French Sign Language.


Large Print[xviii]

This helps people who have low vision. Large print materials should be prepared with a font (print) size that is 16 to 20 points or larger.


Methods of Communication[xix]

·       Adapted American Sign Language (AASL)

·       American Sign Language (ASL)

·       Braille

·       Fingerspelling

·       Gestures

·       Langue des Signes Québéquoise (LSQ)

·       Large print notes

·       Oral

·       Other, as determined by the individual who is deafblind

·       Print on Palm

·       Signing Exact English (SEE)

·       Tangible Symbols, including object cues and picture cues

·       Two-hand Manual


Professional Development[xx]

An ongoing investment to obtain the skills, knowledge, and experience to perform effectively in a role.  Ideally, these activities should be self-chosen[xxi] and initiated by the professional.


Signed Exact English (SEE)[xxii]

A manual communication system that is based on the American English language.


Technical Competence[xxx]

An intervenor demonstrates technical competence by consistently using the necessary skills, knowledge and experiences to provide intervenor services to individuals who are deafblind.


Telephone Devices for the Deaf (TDD)/Telephone Devices for the DeafBlind (TDDB)/

Teletypewriter (TTY)[xxiii]

A small keyboard device with a modem for telephone and visual display is used to send the message by code over the telephone to a similar machine.



The process of learning what you need to in order to perform your job duties[xxv]

Training includes “courses/topics…that are ‘required’ and ‘optional’”[xxvi]

This knowledge may be “required for the job by the employer or other agency [xxvii]

Training programs may be “offered on a regular basis in [Intervenor] service agencies across the province” [xxviii]


Total Communication Approach (TCA)[xxix]

To use as many methods of communication as needed to facilitate the exchange of information.


[i] Glossary of Terms, OASIS Sensory Partners, June 28, 2012

[ii] CHS, Glossary of Terms.  Retrieved from:

[iii] OASIS

[iv] Rotary Cheshire Homes (2004-2012).  Resources: Communication Methods. Retrieved from:

[v] Reid, Julie (n/a). George Brown College.

[vi] Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS)

[vii] OASIS

[viii] Hay Group (2015).  Competency Backgrounder. Retrieved from

[ix] Deafblind International – Guidelines on Best Practice for Service Development for Deafblind People, page 13,


[xi] OASIS

[xii] OASIS

[xiii] OASIS

[xiv] Education and Training Sub-Committee.  (October 15, 2015).

[xv] MCSS (2014-2015). MCSS Policy Framework.  Retrieved from

[xvi] MCSS (2014-2015). MCSS Policy Framework.  Retrieved from

[xvii] CHS, Glossary of Terms.  Retrieved from:  Note: definition is a product of Francophone engagement.

[xviii] MCSS

[xix] MCSS (2014-2015). MCSS Policy Framework.  Retrieved from [Revisions from Marketing and Communications Sub-Committee & Core Competencies Sub-Committee]

[xx] Education and Training Sub-Committee. (November 19, 2015).

[xxi] DSHRS. (2012). Developmental Services Sector: Agency-based Training Committee (p. 3). Retrieved from:

[xxii] David A. Zawolkow, President, S.E.E. Center for the Advancement of Deaf Children

[xxiii] OASIS

[xxiv] Education and Training Sub-Committee. (October 15, 2015).

[xxv] Education and Training Sub-Committee. (October 15, 2015).

[xxvi] DSHRS. (2012). Developmental Services Sector: Agency-based Training Committee (p. 11). Retrieved from:

[xxvii] MOE/MOTCU. (2015). Training. (p. 152). Retrieved from:

[xxviii] DSHRS. (2012). Developmental Services Sector: Agency-based Training Committee (p. 5). Retrieved from:

[xxix] OASIS

[xxx] Education and Training Sub-Committee

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