Full report in 1997 RE:view article "Corner to Corner : How Can Deaf Blind People Solicit Aid Effectively?" by Dona Sauerburger and Susanne Jones



Corner to Corner: Effective Ways to Solicit Aid by Deaf-Blind People
Dona Sauerburger and Suzanne Jones
Posted on SpEdEx by Ray Dragon


A deaf-blind man waits at a corner, holding a card that asks for help to cross.
  • What makes this person tap the man and offer assistance when others pass him by?
  • How can a deaf-blind person most effectively use a card to solicit aid to cross a street?

    Picture shows a deaf-blind man wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and dark pants and sunglasses standing at a crosswalk facing the street, holding up a card with his right hand and holding a white cane in front of him with his left hand.  He is standing in front of some newspaper boxes and beside a telephone pole.  Another man wearing a suit and tie is approaching him from the street and reaching out to touch his left elbow. Picture shows the same two men as the last photo.  They are both facing the street and the deaf-blind man with the white shirt is starting to walk, holding his white cane in his right hand and reaching for the other man with his left hand.  The man in the suit is beside him and holding his left elbow, looking down.


    By interviewing 72 people passing or helping a deaf-blind person, we found some answers.



    Survey Method & Design


    Two different sessions were held. In each session, a deaf-blind man or a deaf-blind woman stood at a corner, holding up one of the cards shown below to solicit aid to cross the street.

    Below, card on the left is called the "HKNC Card", on the right is the "Experimental Card"
    Photo shows a yellow laminated card with braille along the bottom and the left upper corner cut off.  The 1st line says 'I AM DEAF & BLIND.' 2nd line says 'COULD YOU PLEASE HELP' 3rd line says 'ME CROSS THIS STREET.' 4th line says 'Thank you!' Photo shows a yellow card of the same shape and color with braille.  1st line says 'Please help me to'  2nd line in very large print says 'CROSS STREET' 3rd line says 'I am both DEAF and BLIND' 4th line says 'so TAP ME if you can help.' Last line says 'Thank you.'

    Three interviewers waited at strategic locations, ready to interview people who passed by or guided the deaf-blind person across.

    After getting assistance to cross, the deaf-blind person entered a nearby store, waited a few minutes while the interviews were completed and the sidewalk cleared, then approached the corner to solicit aid to cross back again.

    Click here for the questions asked of the passersby

    Photo shows the back of a woman with white short-sleeved shirt and flowered shorts standing at the crosswalk, with the card help over her right shoulder.  A man wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and tie and carrying a newspaper and his suit coat is approaching from her left, looking very concerned.
    Survey Results

    Guide's Awareness


    table test
    Experimental card
    HKNC Card
    Total
    Guide's awareness of hearing impairment
    Didnít realize person was deaf
    5
    4
    8
    Knew person was deaf
    11
    9
    20
    TOTAL
    16
    13
    29
    Reasons that passersby knew person was deaf
    Saw the words "deaf" or "tap me" on the card
    7
    4
    11
    Person didn't respond when spoken to
    0
    3
    3
    Person signed while speaking
    0
    1
    1
    Person said he is deaf*
    1
    0
    1
    Person's voice sounded unusual*
    1
    1
    2
    There was no response to their offer for assistance, then they read the card further
    2
    0
    2

    * These were people who passed or helped the deaf-blind man. The fact that he signed while speaking may have helped in these instances as well, since his voice is not characteristic of a deaf person.




    Interview Responses


    Why did people think the deaf-blind person needed help? (16 people surveyed)
  • 13 people: because of the card;
  •  3 people: because the deaf-blind person had a white cane.

    Would people help if the deaf-blind person were not holding up a card? (15 people surveyed)
  • 9 people: NO; would not have helped without the card;
  • 4 people: YES; would have helped without seeing the card;
  • 1 person: would help only if the deaf-blind person stood a certain way (presumably, as if needing help).

    If not, why not?
    People who would not offer to help if the deaf-blind person did not hold up a card said it was because:
  • the fact that the deaf-blind person used a cane would have indicated to them that he or she could get around and cross the street without help;
  • they know that blind people often want their independence;
  • they wouldn't want to intrude.

    We are standing in the street looking at the deaf-blind woman who is smiling and holding up the card with her right hand and her cane is in her left hand.  About 5 feet to her right is a bearded man wearing a business suit and sunglasses, hands in his pockets, looking forward and stepping out into the street. Why did some people not help? Of 72 people who passed the deaf-blind person, 41 did not offer assistance. The reasons people didn't help the deaf-blind person cross the street were:
  • 11 Didn't see or notice deaf-blind person (of these, 3 noticed the deaf-blind person but didn't see the card)
  •  9 Not paying attention, engrossed in conversation, or seemed not to care
  •  7 Saw the deaf-blind person and the card but concluded that he or she didn't need help; almost all reported that they would have helped had they known
  •  4 Couldn't understand English
  •  3 Unsure what to do (these people appeared very concerned while passing the deaf-blind person, but hesitant to approach, unsure whether assistance was needed)
  •  1 In a hurry
  •  1 Not going the same way as the deaf-blind person (asked someone else to help)
  •  1 Other people were there who could help
  •  4 Reason not recorded or refused to speak to interviewer

    What did the people who didn't realize the deaf-blind person wanted help to cross think he or she was doing with the card?
  • Using the card to advertise for local stores;
  • Practicing to cross the street;
  • Trying to get a ride from drivers;
  • Holding up the card so he could read it himself
    No one reported thinking the deaf-blind person was asking for charity or proselytizing.



    Photo shows a deaf-blind man wearing a white short-sleeved shirt, dark pants and sunglasses.  He is standing about 2 feet from the edge of the street, facing the corner.  His left hand holds a white cane and his right hand holds up a card in front of his right shoulder.
    What is the most effective way to use a card to solicit aid?

  • Stand near the curb facing the street to be crossed while holding up the card, to convey the desire to cross.
  • Use gestures or body language to convey the need for assistance.

  • Hold the card at about eye level to the side, to be seen more easily and to avoid confusion about why the card is being held.

  • Periodically turn the card to face perpendicularly to make it visible to people who may be waiting to cross or approaching the person's side.

    If deaf-blind people do not face the street they want to cross, people are not sure that they want to cross, or which way they want to go.

    Suggestion: When a person taps the deaf-blind person to offer assistance, the deaf-blind person can automatically point across the street he or she wants to cross.
    Photo shows deaf-blind woman wearing short-sleeved white shirt and flowered shorts standing at the curb and smiling broadly, holding up a card in front of her right shoulder and holding her white cane with the left hand.
    How should the card be worded?

  • Top of card: purpose ("CROSS STREET")
  • Next line: what the person should do ("Tap Me")
  • Last line: visual and hearing impairment ("I am deaf and blind")


    Below is the card, following suggested word order.


    Please help me to
    CROSS STREET
    TAP ME
    if you can help - I am both
    DEAF and BLIND.
    Thank you.


    For more information contact Dona Sauerburger at Dona@Sauerburger.org


    We are grateful to the deaf-blind participants, David Carrigan and the late Caryn Spall, for standing many hours in the sun -- their efforts helped us learn so much!

    The photos were all taken after the surveys were completed, to show how they were standing and holding the card. To our surprise and delight, people who didn't seem to notice that the deaf-blind people were being photographed approached them and offered to help them across. Below are series of photos that were snapped as quickly as possible -- enjoy!

    This series of 4 photos shows a deaf-blind woman wearing short-sleeved white shirt and flowered shorts.  We see her from the back as she stands at the crosswalk holding up a card in her right hand.  A man with white shirt and tie, holding his business coat over his shoulder, crosses the street toward her and then stands in the street to her left, looking at her card.  Last photo shows them standing at the curb waiting to cross, she is holding his left arm and he looks toward her. This series of 4 photos shows a deaf-blind woman wearing short-sleeved white shirt and flowered shorts.  We see her from the back as she stands at the crosswalk holding up a card in her right hand.  A man with white shirt and tie, holding his business coat over his shoulder, crosses the street toward her and then stands in the street to her left, looking at her card.  Last photo shows them standing at the curb waiting to cross, she is holding his left arm and he looks toward her. This series of 4 photos shows a deaf-blind woman wearing short-sleeved white shirt and flowered shorts.  We see her from the back as she stands at the crosswalk holding up a card in her right hand.  A man with white shirt and tie, holding his business coat over his shoulder, crosses the street toward her and then stands in the street to her left, looking at her card.  Last photo shows them standing at the curb waiting to cross, she is holding his left arm and he looks toward her.
    This series of 4 photos shows a deaf-blind woman wearing short-sleeved white shirt and flowered shorts.  We see her from the back as she stands at the crosswalk holding up a card in her right hand.  A man with white shirt and tie, holding his business coat over his shoulder, crosses the street toward her and then stands in the street to her left, looking at her card.  Last photo shows them standing at the curb waiting to cross, she is holding his left arm and he looks toward her.


    This series of 4 photos were taken from the middle of the street.  The deaf-blind woman faces the street and holds up the card with her right hand, while a man in the crosswalk, wearing a dark tank-top, white shorts and flip-flops, walks toward the curb at her right, turning his head to look at the card.  Then he stands in the street next to the curb, leaning forward to look at the card while she stands and smiles.  Last photo they walk into the street while she holds his arm, both smiling and looking forward. This series of 4 photos were taken from the middle of the street.  The deaf-blind woman faces the street and holds up the card with her right hand, while a man in the crosswalk, wearing a dark tank-top, white shorts and flip-flops, walks toward the curb at her right, turning his head to look at the card.  Then he stands in the street next to the curb, leaning forward to look at the card while she stands and smiles.  Last photo they walk into the street while she holds his arm, both smiling and looking forward. This series of 4 photos were taken from the middle of the street.  The deaf-blind woman faces the street and holds up the card with her right hand, while a man in the crosswalk, wearing a dark tank-top, white shorts and flip-flops, walks toward the curb at her right, turning his head to look at the card.  Then he stands in the street next to the curb, leaning forward to look at the card while she stands and smiles.  Last photo they walk into the street while she holds his arm, both smiling and looking forward.
    This series of 4 photos were taken from the middle of the street.  The deaf-blind woman faces the street and holds up the card with her right hand, while a man in the crosswalk, wearing a dark tank-top, white shorts and flip-flops, walks toward the curb at her right, turning his head to look at the card.  Then he stands in the street next to the curb, leaning forward to look at the card while she stands and smiles.  Last photo they walk into the street while she holds his arm, both smiling and looking forward.


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