Sensory Disabilities

  1. Pay close attention to the set-up of the room and light sources. Better to use internal light sources then depend on outdoor windows that may create glare or shifting shadows.
  2. Most individuals with sensory impairments prefer to have windows behind them. However, ASK for seating preference especially with an interpreter.
  3. Describe the room set-up and explain any changes in your own actions (e.g. turning your head because you heard a knock at the door; motioning someone to move to another location or bending down to find a book, etc.). Sound or visual cues are constantly intruding upon us, which if unknown by someone, can be misinterpreted and/or taken personally(i.e. Person not paying attention to me or doesn’t believe me, etc.)
  4. Maintain eye contact with the person throughout the discussion, regardless of the presence of an interpreter or focusing problems on the part of the individual. Your voice and expressions are critical to processing any discussion.
  5. Remove any unnecessary materials/equipment from the table surface that may be used for a session. Objects can get in the way of various visual fields,( e.g. interpreter’s or participant, etc.).
  6. Speak clearly and at a normal pace when working with individuals who have sensory impairments. Feel comfortable using the words: “see, look or hear” in your conversation. Individuals with sensory impairments use them as well.
  7. Individuals with sensory impairments can be sensitive to touch or be very “tactile” when initially exploring new environments. Be aware of “touch” issues that need to be evaluated on several different levels, including clearly connected to common practices of mobility and orientation.
  8. Written messages can be useful to clarify points, but keep them short and focused. When working with a person having a visual impairment, choose high contrast pens (e.g. black felt tip) for writing. It may also be necessary to use another sheet of paper on a light desktop to create contrast.
  9. Your body language and facial expressions provide valuable feedback to the individual with sensory impairments. Remember that most individuals with visual impairments may have some type of useable vision. They will be responding to your tone of voice along with your body language/touch/use of space (i.e. How close or far away are you from the conversation.)