Sense of touch

People's hands being used to communicate using deafblind manual alphabet

Touch is key

For people with hearing and sight impairment, touch can be important.

It helps with communication – many deafblind people use a form of sign language involving touch called hand-on-hand signing, or they may use their fingers to read Braille.

It helps with connecting – feeling the touch of their friends and loved ones becomes significant when you can’t see or hear.

It helps with learning – especially important for babies and children with sight and hearing problems.


Chris Farrow, who has Usher syndrome, with his communicator guideDeafblindness is a combination of sight and hearing loss that affects a person’s ability to communicate, to access all kinds of information, and to get around.

There are around 250,000 deafblind people in the UK.

Most of these – 220,000 – are older people who have lost their sight and hearing as they age. The other 30,000 are children and adults who have been born deafblind, or have become deafblind through illness, accident or rare syndromes.

Older people

As we age our hearing and sight may deteriorate. At first we may need glasses or to turn the TV up a little. But things can become more difficult.

If you lose your sight so that it is hard to cross the road safely, you may need to ask for help. But how will you do that if you can’t hear what people say to you in a noisy street?

If you find it hard to hear what someone is saying, you watch their lips and face for extra clues. But if you become partially sighted, how will you understand what is being said?

Too often people think this is just something which happens with age and assume nothing can be done. But support is available - our Enjoy Life booklet can help you understand what an older person is going through, how you can help and where to go for more support.

The Tapestry of Touch

Why not close your eyes and ears and experience our Tapestry of Touch through your fingers?

Related link

About deafblindness


First published: Friday 7 February 2014
Updated: Tuesday 1 December 2015