Maurice: Top 5 Phrases that Bother People who are Deaf-Blind

10/15/2009 14:45

Many years ago I attended a workshop and was given an interesting single page handout titled “What are some phrases that bother individuals who are deaf-blind?” I filed this paper away and moved it many times from office to office without giving it much thought. (I don’t know who wrote it but I will credit the source here at a later date if I find out.) I came across it the other day and thought it might be worth sharing and thinking about, not only in the context of children who communicate symbolically (through formal language) but also in the context of children who communicate non-symbolically (for example, through behaviors and natural gestures). Here are the top 5 phrases listed on this sheet:

1. It is not important.
2. I will tell you later.
3. Never mind.
4. It was just small talk.
5. It is all settled.

How often do we communicate these ideas to children who are deaf-blind, whether we mean to or not? How often have I said or signed “later”, only to forget—more often than not—to ever revisit the issue? And how might we communicate these phrases through our own behavior in a way that might confuse and frustrate the children we serve? Consider the following situations. Spilled milk? Nevermind because I’m in a hurry so I’ll just mop it up. Your dad coming to the classroom door unexpectedly? It’s not important because he just stopped by to ask about an upcoming meeting. The fire truck that just passed with its lights flashing and sirens blaring? I will tell you later because the city bus is coming and we have to be ready. What’s for lunch? There was a disagreement whether we should have pizza or burgers but now it is all settled so you don’t need to know how we decided on pizza.

Maybe we’re in a hurry and don’t have time to explain. Perhaps we think trying to explain something is just too complicated, or that the explanation might be beyond the ability of the child to understand. And these aren’t just phrases that bother people who are deaf-blind, or for that matter people who are just hard of hearing. They’re responses that would bother anyone, especially if they were used often enough.

Hopefully you get the idea. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to post your comments here on our website for others to read.


Topic: Maurice: Top 5 Phrases that Bother People who are Deaf-Blind

Date 02/01/2010

By Name

Subject Subject



Date 11/02/2009

By Dave Picariello Transition Teacher Burton H.S.

Subject Top 5 Phrases that Bother People who are Deaf-Blind


Learned helplessness is the outcome of using phrases such as these on gen.ed., students with learning differences, or our friends and family for that matter. If the student or individual hears "it's not important" often enough, they could start to feel that making simple decisions everyday did not matter. Then, where would they be?