Block alphabet

This page describes what Block alphabet is and how to use it.

What is Block alphabet?

Block alphabet is a simple way to communicate using touch, not sight or speech. Words are spelt in block capital letters on to the palm of your hand.

Who uses Block alphabet?

Block alphabet is used by people who are deafblind.

It can be especially helpful if you lose your sight and hearing later in life. It’s even easier to learn than Deafblind Manual.

Two women communicating using the block alphabet.

Before you read on…

  • You can communicate using a mix of different ways (we all do!).
  • At Sense, we use whatever combination of speech, touch, sign or visual language works best.
  • It’s never too late to start.
  • Have a go and don’t worry about getting it wrong.

Top tips

  • Use the whole of the palm for each letter.
  • Make the letters large and clear.
  • Start each letter from left to right and from top to bottom.
  • Draw each letter on top of the last one.
  • Pause slightly at the end of each word.
  • With M, N and W, keep your finger on the person’s palm and draw the letter in one stroke, not separate strokes.
  • For numbers, you can either spell them out or just draw them as figures: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on.
  • Use the plain figure 7, not the Continental version with the bar through it, 7, as this is easily confused with the figure 2.

Watch how to use the Block alphabet

See also

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Find out more about communication methods and read inspiring stories about the people that use them.

  • Sign language is a way of communicating using hand gestures and movements, body language and facial expressions, instead of spoken words.
  • Deafblind Manual alphabet  is a way to communicate using touch only, not sight or speech.
  • Makaton  uses signs and symbols, in spoken word order, along with speech, to develop communication, language and literacy skills.
  • Visual frame signing.

Other ways of communicating

Using speech

Using touch

Using signs


More information

This content was last reviewed in April 2022. We’ll review it again next year.