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PRO-TACTILE: Understanding Touch Techniques to Facilitate Communication with Deaf-Blind People, Part 2

Presented by Jamie Pope, MSW & Steven D. Collins, PhD, CDI

We wish to thank Jelica Nuccio and aj granda, pioneers in the Pro-Tactile Movement, again for training us the very empowering Pro-Tactile Way. Much of the content in this presentation is reflective of their teachings.

Learner Objectives • Identify backchanneling techniques used for feedback from audience & surroundings • Demonstrate advanced techniques, such as Tactile Maps • Gain an understanding on the components of a positive Pro-Tactile “attitude”


Haptics • CORRECTION: Haptics was developed by a DB man with Usher Syndrome who uses the Oral Method and his interpreter & wife, from Finland. • Haptics means any form of nonverbal communication involving touch, which, in Greek is “I touch”. • Haptics is not a term that is deaf-blind specific. – It also covers the social greeting customs of various cultures (hearing/sighted) that involve touch, i.e., in USA, handshake and sometimes a hug.

Pro-Tactile • Pro-Tactile is NOT Haptics, per se. • It embodies an empowering philosophy & attitude to help DB people lead full lives. • The philosophy of PT is to put DB people (DBP) at the center. – DBP learn PT first, then Hearing, Deaf learn – DBP take the lead in teaching PT – With more info & being more connected through touch. DBP feel empowered to take responsibility for directing their own everyday lives.

Where does that leave us? • Pro-Tactile and Haptics may look similar with their touch cues, but Pro-Tactile is much more than just “Haptics”. • It is important to respect individual DBP preferences in the USA – Pro-Tactile is becoming more popular in DB communities than Haptics. • Use Pro-Tactile language first to find out if the DB person knows PT.

Pro-Tactile is becoming “The Deaf-Blind Way� in the USA Haptics evolved in Europe and made its way over to the USA. -Similar to how American Sign Language was first based on French Sign Language and then adapted to preferences of American Deaf people.

USA DBP have started to learn about Haptics and are choosing to embrace Pro-Tactile for its empowering approach and DB specific strategies.


Review “I’m Here”

“Oh I See”

Set up a presence



“Laughing” “smiling” “Sad Face” Add Expressions


BBC • The upper back is used as a canvas for audience feedback. • Discuss with DB speaker what cues they want and test out on their back before they present or attend a meeting. • Steer DB Speaker to face audience if they are “off” and can’t see the audience.

BBC • Orientation – from the point of view of the DB speaker, where people are, where the door is, etc. • Layout – U Shape, Theatre style • Placement – Where in the layout to put the touch cues • Judgment – Use judgment to show which cues DB speaker want as much as possible






open circle Z


More Common BBC Cues • Watching • Someone entering, leaving room • Applause • Raising Hand • Bored • Fascinated

• • • • • •

Shock Nodding Head Pager Typing/writing Crying Interpreter switch

Sensitivity • Do a test run for DB to become familiar with the cues and check for sensitivity • Some DBP want a lot, others want just a few. • Ways to increase sensitivity: – Make cues larger – Add a little more pressure – Use two hands instead of two fingers – Move slower


Tactile Maps • Tactile maps are used to help the DBP to understand and explore spatial information and the direction of visual environment. • This information is shared by touch using the fingertip on other person’s palm, arm or back to describe the immediate environment and surrounding obstacles. – Tactile maps can be used in isolation or in combination with sign language

Tactile Maps • Decide on classifiers: – where it is shared & shown in the air, or – where it is shared by touch and “drawing” on the body • The purpose of tactile maps is to provide the “full picture” of the visual environment in a tactile sense.

Size & Pattern • Use tactile cues to describe size, shapes, and patterns. – Use one finger for smaller shapes, three fingers or index and thumb for thicker lines or bigger shapes – One or two hands to give idea of pattern

Point-to-Point • Without losing contact, describe layout from thumb to index finger – Going around point-to-point – Going from starting point to another point and back to starting point then a different point • Used to give general direction from where the DBP is.


Attitude • Pro-Tactile is inclusive and empowering. • People who practice the PT attitude include DBP in all activities. • Never leave the DBP in a communication void. If you’re leaving, even for a few minutes, let them know and when you’ll be back. • Hook up, introduce DBP to friends who happen to stop and chat with you, never leave the DBP out.

Promote Equality • Be sensitive how you promote sighted privileges that make DB feel deflated or left behind. • When walking past a DB person, stop, identify yourself, and say hello. Sighted people can see each other and wave, we DB can’t see who is walking by so stop to say hello to give them equal access.. • Give visual info what’s happening, who’s there, what they’re doing, mood, etc so DB can make informed decisions and participate the same as everyone else.


Promoting Autonomy • A DBP who incorporates the Pro-Tactile Way does things by himself (with or without support). • Example: Approaching an elevator with an SSP – The SSP stays in “touch” with the DB person at all times, guides the DBP to the elevator and indicates where the button is so the DBP can push the button himself

• This helps the DBP lead a more self-determined and fuller life.

Promoting Responsibility • Allow the DBP the first opportunity to respond or take action, whenever possible. – Example: A person approaches a group (that includes a DBP) in the hall and asks for directions to the restroom. Who should answer?

EMPOWERMENT “Deaf-Blind People can DO anything, except hear and see, using touch and their intelligence, when they are given access.” ~Jelica Nuccio & aj granda


Join us for PART 3! See how PT is demonstrated in • DBP to DBP • Real-life interpreting with an audience • 3-way communication PLUS, learn effective strategies to interpret and incorporate PT at the same time! CEUs = .15 PS Cost: $26.99 $3 off for Part 2 participants! Use discount code: EarlyPT3 To register: 46

DB-TIP Pro-Tactile, Part 2  
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