Manual communication refers to a system in which people communicate with each other through means other than verbal communication. Such types of communication could include a combination of hand signals, facial gestures, and other types of body signals. Manual communication could be used on its own, or in combination with or as a supplement to verbal communication. It can be used in a variety of settings such as a means of communication with the hearing impaired, as a supplement to teaching those with reading or learning disabilities, and as a means of social communication.
As a means for instructing hearing impaired students, manual communication is very important. This is because it is their principal means of communication. Sign language is an elaborate language developed specifically for the purpose of communicating with the hearing impaired. It consists of different types of hand gestures and other body signals that may be used to convey meaning or to converse with other individuals.
People who have learning disabilities, like dyslexia, that make it difficult for them to read, will benefit from a combination of manual communication in addition to reading. Manually communicating what the books contain makes it easier for them to comprehend the contents. Teachers and students also use manual communication while interacting with each other in the classroom. For instance, a teacher might ask a question, and the students will raise their hands. This is a form of manual communication indicating that they want to answer the question. If the teacher points at anyone, that will be a signal for the person to answer the question and for others will put their hands down.
In the business community, the study of the unconscious forms of manual communication can affect business relations. For instance, a financial representative that is trying to get a customer to open a bank account might read the response of the customer by studying unconscious or involuntary signals like hand or foot tapping, crossing the legs, and shifting the eyes away from the representative. All of these are signs of disinterest. The same may apply in business negotiations and during business meetings with clients.
Other people also make use of this form of communication in the course of everyday interactions. Smiling is a form of such communication, and waving the hands is also a form of manual communication. Hugging, rolling the eyes in exasperation, and even blushing are other signs of this means of communication.