Total Communication

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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.


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.[1][2] 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.A, 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.[3] Today, the debate seems to be between TC programs and bilingual-bicultural education.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Nagengast, Larry. (1973) Deafness no handicap to newcomer. The Morning News (September 4, 1973), p. 11.
  3. ^ [1] Archived March 10, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  • Lowenbraun, S., Appelman, K., & Callahan, J. (1980). Teaching the hearing impaired through total communication. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.
  • Mayer, P. & Lowenbraun, S. (1990). Total communication use among elementary teachers of hearing-impaired children. American Annals of the Deaf, 135, 257–263.
  • Moores, D. F. (1996). Educating the deaf. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
  • 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.

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