Skip to main content

Includes information on shared reading, chart writing, alphabet activities, remnant books, partner assisted scanning, switch mounts, and downloadable templates for PowerPoint ABC books.

Deaf-Blind Student Case Studies

Top Tools from the Trenches

The deaf-blind model demonstration classrooms have been working hard to foster meaningful literacy and communication instruction to students with the most significant disabilities, including deaf-blindness. If you are just getting started or just need some ideas, this is a short list of the tools teachers use regularly. Some of these tools are very simple-it doesn’t all have to be fancy or expensive!

Predictable Chart Writing

Predictable Chart Writing is a shared, group writing activity that results in a classroom book. Engaging in writing is typically a challenging and often abandoned activity for students with significant disabilities. This writing activity has been adapted for students who are unable to speak and unable to hold a pencil. It has been modified from the activities described in Predictable Chart Writing, by Williams, Carson & Dellosa.

Emergent Literacy Goals

Students who are just getting started with literacy may engage in activities in a random and inconsistent manner. This poses serious challenges to educators who are trying to write meaningful IEP goals. This list of sample emergent literacy goals have been designed for students with the most significant disabilities, including deaf-blindness. The goals address communication, shared reading, self-selected reading, self-selected writing, and sound awareness.

Partner Assisted Scanning

Partner assisted scanning is a way for communication “partners” to “assist” students by listing or “scanning” through possible choices. This is a quick strategy to use when a communication device is not available or does not have the needed vocabulary. This short handout offers simple tips for implementing partner assisted scanning.

Remnant Books

Describes how to make remnant books-an ideal way for students with significant disabilities, including deaf-blindness, to record their experiences. Made out of little brag books, remnant books can contain most anything that is important to the student, such as tactuals, (i.e. locks of hair from haircut, balloon scrap from parade, or a shell from the beach), pictures/print items (movie ticket stubs, part of menu, napkins with logos), textures, and scents. Students can use these to choose topics for communication or writing.

Loc-Line Mounts

Successful switch use starts with having the switch consistently in the proper position throughout the day. Commercially available mounting equipment is often used to position switches, however, this equipment may not always be available. Loc-Line can be a great alternative to these commercially available mounts. Loc-Line is a type of re-positionable plastic tubing. It’s cheap, easy to get and easy to use!!

PowerPoint Book Templates

When making your own PowerPoint book, a template can be a helpful time saver. The templates below are for creating ABC books and personal books for students with significant disabilities, including deaf-blindness. The templates have high contrast backgrounds and some have finger spellings. (The finger spelling photos come from They are free!). The templates have also been setup so that there is an auditory click and some movement when students turn the pages in the book. In all of the downloadable templates, the pages and the text boxes have already been made. Teachers, therapists and/or parents can spend time adding pictures and text, rather than the technical aspects of starting from scratch.

PVC Pipe Easel

The flip chart easel is used along with the alphabet flip chart for self-selected writing activities. The easel allows for the partner in partner-assisted scanning to have their hands free to point to the letters as well as write the letters the student chooses on their page. It also allows the student to have the alphabet flip chart at eye level as they focus on the letters being scanned. The easel can also be used with the communication flip chart for other partner assisted scanning activities. The easel has been designed by Julie Brickhouse, a teacher on the Deaf-Blind Model Classroom Project in North Carolina.

Emergent Literacy Interaction Inventory

Students’ success and engagement in emergent writing is highly dependent on the quality of this interaction. This inventory has the key elements that adults need to do in order for their students to learn how to write using an alternative pencil. The inventory can be used to train teachers, teaching assistants, parents, administrators, literacy coaches, OTRs, SLPs, PTs and after school caregivers. This inventory has been specifically designed for students with significant disabilities, including deaf-blindness.