Nonverbal Communication Skills for Blind Children

To be successful in a sighted world, your child must master effective nonverbal communication.

Think about a potential employee who does not turn her face to the interviewing panel as she speaks. Imagine someone who joins a recreational club to make friends but communicates with his body language that he is disinterested or unapproachable. Last, envision a young adult on a date who stands uncomfortably close to her romantic interest because she never learned cultural norms around personal space. Effective nonverbal communication is beneficial in all social settings.

Your grade schooler may find it easiest to learn respectful and friendly nonverbal communication by learning the communication role of each body part, head to toe. This can be labeled "head-to-toe listening." Here are the basics to teach.

  • Head: Your head, while upright, should be directed toward the speaker and can occasionally nod in agreement.
  • Eyes: Eye contact is made or appears to be made. To avoid looking too intense, you can look away from time to time.
  • Mouth: If the conversation is positive, light-hearted, or friendly, don’t forget to smile! A genuine smile is warm and inviting. It helps to brush and floss after a meal. If in doubt, ask a good friend if there is any food in your teeth!
  • Shoulders: Shoulders are held upright, exuding confidence and alertness.
  • Arms: To emphasize a comfortable and confident self, arms should be by your side instead of crossed over the chest.
  • Hands: People generally use their hands while they speak. The goal is emphasis on important words without distracting from the spoken message. Hand movements should be relatively firm, instead of loose or too stiff. Repetitive hand movements are generally distracting.
  • Legs: Stand at least one arm's-length distance from the speaker with a comfortable, shoulder-width stance. Two people in conversation rarely stand directly in front of one another but usually angled toward one another.
  • Feet: Feet pointed toward a speaker at a 45-degree angle can be interpreted as interest. Feet pointed away from a speaker will likely be interpreted as a desire to walk away.

Here are some practical methods for teaching proper nonverbal communication.

The previously mentioned lesson plans and more are free resources from AFB’s CareerConnect.

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