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THE COMMUNICATION BUBBLE

The Communication Bubble is a term we use to describe the area around an individual within which he/she can understand (receive) communication comfortably. The surrounding area is different for the different senses:

  • Touch, obviously, requires that a person be in direct contact with some part of the skin.
  • Taste requires that your tongue be in contact with the object. The tongue itself only contains taste buds that detect sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Any other sensation comes from smell. In other words, the enjoyment of the flavor of food mostly comes from smell.

The other 3 senses, however, are "distance" senses:

  • Smell can evoke powerful memories even from the distant past. Certain individuals, objects and locations have characteristic odors and can be identified solely by their smells. The distance at which you can detect an odor depends on the sensitivity of the nose as well as the strength of the odor, how far away the odor is and whether other odors are competing for attention. The direction from which the odor comes is not as important though the strength of it is somewhat less if it is coming from behind. The questions are:
    • Can they smell?
    • How do you know?
  • Hearing, of course, is essential for understanding oral speech but also for receiving important environmental cues. Like odors, sound reaches the ears regardless of the direction from which it is coming. However, a person who has hearing on just one side will not be able to localize sound very well. Sometimes individuals can hear and understand speech only if one is very close to them on their better side, even if they have hearing aids on. It is necessary to determine how far away one can stand in order for them to hear, recognizing that the distance needs to be even closer in a noisy environment.
    The questions are:
    • How much can they hear with each ear and with both ears?
    • What can they hear? Can they detect loud sounds/voices, or understand speech?
    • How clearly can they hear and understand speech with aids, without aids, and when sick with ear infections?
    • Do they need to speech read (AKA lip read) in order to understand speech? (Note that vision is important.)
    • Can they hear equally well from both ears?
    • How much noise will prevent them from understanding speech?
  • Vision lets a person know what people, animals, or objects are in the environment and whether they are stationary or moving toward or away from them and whether they are communicating with facial or body movements. The questions are:
    • How far up, down, and to the sides can they see?
    • How far ahead can they see clearly?
    • How small an object can the person see clearly?
    • Do they need bright lighting in order to see?
    • Do they need good contrast between an object (like print or hands signing) and the background in order to understand?

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The View from the Front

Graphic: View from the Front

The horizontal line represents the center of vision out to the sides.
The 2 vertical lines represent the center of vision for each eye up and down.

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The View from the Side

Graphic: the view from the side

The view from the side shows the line of vision from each eye is blocked in the upward direction by how far the forehead protrudes in front of the eye. Likewise, the view below is blocked by how far out the cheek protrudes.

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The View from the Top

Graphic: view from the top

View from the top shows the vision from each eye:
The angle out to the side is not quite 180 degrees.
The vision from each eye out to the opposite side is blocked by the nose.
The dotted line shows the angle of vision for the right eye.
The dashed line shows the angle of vision for the left eye.
The straight lines go out from the center of vision for each eye.

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