Alphabet-based communication

Deafblind manual alphabet

Hands signing The deafblind manual alphabet is a method of spelling out words onto a deafblind person's hand.

Each letter is denoted by a particular sign or place on the hand. It is straightforward to learn but is more complex to receive.

Download the deafblind manual alphabet card or
order a copy.


Block is another manual form of communication where words are spelled out on to the palm of the deafblind person's hand. It is even simpler to learn than the deafblind manual alphabet, but will be a slower method to use.

  • Trace each letter with your finger, in block capitals, on the palm. Use the whole of the palm for each letter
  • Keep letters large and clear
  • Place one letter on top of the last
  • Pause slightly at the end of each word

Download the block alphabet card.


Braille is a system of writing and printing for visually impaired people, in which arrangements of raised dots representing letters and numbers are identified by touch.

It can be used by deafblind people who have an understanding of written language.

Although originally intended for the purpose of information being documented on paper, braille can now be used as a digital aid to conversation, with some smartphones offering braille displays, and computer braille keyboards allowing access to instant messaging software, Skype or chatrooms.

Further information on Communication aids.


Moon is similar to braille in that it is based on touch. Instead of raised dots, letters are represented by 14 raised characters at various angles.

It is less commonly used than Braille, but easier to learn. The ease of use means that it can be used by some people with learning disabilities and people who become blind through ageing.

All of these methods are reliant on the literacy of the individual.


The Information Standard 'Certified member' logo

First published: Monday 21 May 2012
Updated: Thursday 22 June 2017