TOUCH and Deaf-Blind People Chapter 4.1.5
Overview • As Deaf people have been called visual people, DB people may be called tactile people. • Touchisusedfororientation,forlanguage, for connection to the environment and to other people, and for pleasure. • Touch is used to add to what one receives through hearing and vision.
Feeling Things Sighted-Hearing people use touch too, of course. • They use it to get more information, to verify what we see/hear • For connection to others • For pleasure DB people use it for these and additional purposes.
Interesting to Touch This DB woman has added a piece of art to the handle of her cane.
Touch is not Always Obvious • Look at the picture on the next page. The man has tunnel vision; the woman is his SSP. • While he takes in information through his vision he is also aware of her stance, her orientation and her movement through the touch of her forearm.
Elbows & Knees • The same is true of the two women in the next photo. The woman on the left has tunnel vision; the woman seated next to her is her SSP. Notice how their knees touch. • Another DB person reaches out a hand for her attention.
Beautiful to Touch Touching is experiencing just as seeing is experiencing. Some people like dogs or catsandfindpettingthemtobepleasurable. Lyinginfreshwarmgrasscanfeelwonderful.
The Sense of Touch • Location • Texture • Temperature • Size and shape • Movement
Scanning & Focusing In the next slide the DB woman first scans the sign to see its size and any tactile markings and then reads the Braille.
TouchforOrientation&Balance • When you leave the deaf-blind person for a few minutes, think about where you leave them and what they have to touch for information (orientation) and balance. • The edge of a table, back of a chair, wall, or a post are all examples. • If the deaf-blind person would like to sit down, make sure it is in a comfortable place (not in the hot sun, in a draft etc.)
Tactile Signals • The two DB women in the next slide are talking when someone enters the room. • The woman on the left felt this & touches her companion on the knee to signal “hold” as she looks toward the newcomer. • At the same time, the (sighted) man on the right is beginning to reach – to provide the same information.
Back-Channeling • Back-channeling is a universal feature of communication. In spoken English we say “un-huh, mmm, really!” and so on to show we are listening and understanding what is being said. This is a common feature of languages. • Even large audiences are monitored for signs of interest, understanding or the lack of either.
Back-Channeling 2 The woman on the left makes a comment to the (hearing) man while the interpreter on the right touches her elbow to signal his acknowledgement.
The DB Community has Rules Public touch includes: • Hands & wrists • Forearms • Hand to Shoulder • Hand to the back • When seated – knees • Hand to elbow when guiding
Public / Private • Private touch requires either intimacy (youalreadyhaveacloserelationship),or • Permission – a direct request to touch your hair, to see your haircut for example
Guiding Friends hugging “Goodbye”
“Appropriate” What is appropriate touch depends on the situation. Some Variables: • What you are doing. • Whether you are in a group of DB people or in a more “Hearing” environment. • The gender and relationship of you and the person you are with.
Think about these Culturesor ‘cultures’ and Touch • Italians • British • Arabs • Americans • Germans • Japanese
Think About Touch and These Regions and Members of these Professions.Region Profession • Southern California • Kansas-Missouri • New York City • Actors, Dancers • Doctors • Librarians • Attorneys
Touch and Meaning The meaning of touch is cultural, individual and situational. • Families vary in terms of their cultural heritage. • Eachofusasindividualsalsohaveourown history regarding touch and its meaning. • Parents and children, spouses, sisters, football teammates have special relationships.
Entering the DB Community • Joining the DB Community means leaving your old comfort zone, entering a new ‘world,’ and learning to experience things in a different way. • Depending on your background and personality this will be more or less challenging.
Adding Touch • Adding touch does not mean giving up vision or hearing although some deaf-blind people fear this. • This is parallel to the resistance to Sign Language in the fear that it will result in reduced use of hearing and speech.
Pressure to be ‘Normal’ • There is always pressure (on all of us) to ‘fit-in’ – to appear part of the ‘middle’ and not stand out as different. • DB people feel this pressure to stay “sighted” as long as possible and not appear too different. • To embrace touch is to embrace being deaf and blind – not easy.
Beginnings Beginning to get comfortable: • Side by side touch of arms and knees. • Touchontheshoulderorelbowforaguide. • UsingtactileSignindarkordimlylitareas. • Using tactile Sign in close spaces such as the car. Communicating through touch in these situations eases the transition.
New Perception • As an SSP you will learn to “see” through the eyes of the DB person – what would beuseful,interestingorbeautifultothem. • You will begin to be more aware of touch and its meaning. • Youwilllearntousetouchtocommunicate more than just through sign language. • You will learn to “think tactually”.
Conclusion • In conclusion: Touch is a big part of Deaf-Blind culture just as vision is a big part of the Deaf culture. • To understand and use touch appropriately you must become familiar with the DB Community and DB Communication.