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Total Communication (TC) is an approach to Deaf education that aims to make use of a number of modes of communication such as signed, oral, auditory, written and visual aids, depending on the particular needs and abilities of the child.
In the UK 'Total Communication' (also known as 'Inclusive Communication') is an approach used, mainly by Speech and Language therapists, to help children and adults with learning disabilities communicate using any mode of communication such as symbols, signing (usually Makaton), photographs as well as the spoken and written word and gesture. It has also been found to be useful for those recovering from a stroke or head injury where spoken language is impaired or for people whose language processing is affected, perhaps in old age or through dementia.
Total Communication not only helps deaf children learn to communicate but children who have down syndrome and other learning disabilities where it makes communication hard especially for school aged children and the families who are involved.
Total Communication focuses on teaching children special tools to help them communicate better like finger spelling, how to use body language to tell people how you feel, sign language, lip reading and other natural gestures to communicate. Total Communication encourages children to use the little bit of hearing they may have to help make this process work better, with the help of hearing aids and other different kind of implants. Not being able to communicate can be very frustrating, this can cause behavior problems when a child is not able to communicate what he or she needs.
Total Communication uses both a visual aspect and hearing to help children communicate. When a child is in a classroom setting the teacher and the students may be speaking and using sign language at the same time. This is called simultaneous communication, this form of communication works best in a classroom setting. Teachers who teach these types of classes always emphasize learning the language first. These programs follow the sign language system based on the English system.
Some things to always remember when using total communication is that some children may process things at a slower pace, this mean you might have to wait up to 10 seconds to get an answer. The use of yes and no and short answer question are usually the best when asking questions that only require one answer a yes or no. Using print like pictures or symbols can also really help children understand what you are trying to say.
Total Communication includes: 
Total Communication along with sign and spoken language can be very effective when they are used together. To really help a child you need to understand his or her strengths and weaknesses.
An approach very similar to Total Communication was developed by David Denton at the Maryland School for the Deaf in 1967. The term "Total Communication", though, and its specific philosophy, was first used by Roy Holcomb in California. It was adopted by the Maryland school as the official name for their educational philosophy. TC was supposed to find a middle ground in age-old disputes between oralism and manualism, and as an alternative to Simultaneous Communication. In practice, however, most Total Communication programs use some form of Simultaneous Communication.
Total Communication educational programs have been established in the UK, France, U.S., China, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, France, Germany and elsewhere. In the United States, TC was most popular during the 1970s and 1980s, when most schools and programs for children who are Deaf, as well as most major organizations in the field supported the TC philosophy. Today, the debate seems to be between TC programs and bilingual-bicultural education.
There is little research concerning that the use of total communication in child centers or his or her own natural environment .
TC's original intent was to provide children with the communication tools needed for children to develop complete language. But in later years the philosophy of TC has often been over-simplified and has been confused with simultaneous communication.
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- Holcomb, R. K. (1970). The Total Approach: Beginning and structure. In R. Madebrink (Ed.) (1972). Proceedings of the International Congress on Education of the Deaf, Stockholm, 1970.. Stockholm, Sweden: International Congress on Education of the Deaf, pp. 104-107.
- Nagengast, Larry. (1973) Deafness no handicap to newcomer. The Morning News (September 4, 1973), p. 11.
-  Archived March 10, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- "How to Use "Total Communication" - Hearing Like Me". Hearing Like Me. 2016-09-06. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
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- Mayer, P. & Lowenbraun, S. (1990). Total communication use among elementary teachers of hearing-impaired children. American Annals of the Deaf, 135, 257–263.
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- Schlesinger, H. (1986). "Total communication in perspective". In D. M. Luterman (Ed.), Deafness in Perspective (pp. 87–116). College-Hill Press: San Diego, CA.
- Scouten, E. (1984). Turning points in the education of deaf people. Danville, IL: The Interstate Printers and Publishers, Inc.
- Total Communication- The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education, USA.
- Interview with David Denton
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