The development of a portable communication aid, which allows deaf-blind people to communicate with others without the help of an assistant, is reviewed. The system comprises two major units: one for deaf-blind people and the other for sighted people. A deaf-blind person can send messages by typing on a Braille terminal and the messages will be converted to Mandarin phonetic symbols, which are then displayed on an LCD display to be read by a sighted partner. Then the sighted partner can send messages back by typing on a simple keyboard and the messages will be displayed on a Braille display to be 'read' by the blind-deaf person. The aid has been designed to be effective, reliable and inexpensive. Some experimental results are reported to demonstrate the applicability of the aid.