Cross-disability communication since 2016

Many have heard of cross-cultural communication, but few experience communication across disabilities. Even when sensory abilities don’t match, such as sight and hearing, other senses can be called on to carry the message.

That’s the story of Pouran and Brittany, explains Jessica Gruber, employment coordination manager for ProAct. Pouran is deaf. Brittany is blind. They first met at ProAct in 2016.

Rain was threatening one day when the two were joining a group for a park outing. The class decided to go to a museum instead, and the instructor asked if anyone knew sign language. Brittany raised her hand.

The instructor asked her to sign “museum” to Pouran and the two came face to face. Brittany signed the word museum letter by letter as she didn’t know how much sign language Pouran understood, Gruber recalls.

Pouran quickly responded by grabbing Brittany’s hand and signing the words “yes, museum,” also letter by letter. “This started a friendship that endures to this day as the two use American Sign Language to communicate, Gruber explained.