TACTILE COMMUNICATIONS                        Seattle, WA                    info@tactilecommunications.org

Language and Communication Skills

While Braille is useful for accessing information on the internet and in print, additional language and communication skills are required for being a successful employee, parent, teacher, and more generally, for participating in society. Tactile Communications introduces innovative communication strategies that have been developed by DeafBlind people (see protactile.org), including ways of providing and receiving paralinguistic feedback in conversation, strategies for learning and teaching through touch, self-advocacy skills, and language skills. Just as Visual American Sign Language (VASL) is the natural language of the American Deaf community, Tactile American Sign Language, or TASL, is the natural language of the American DeafBlind community.

 When DeafBlind people lose their vision, VASL becomes difficult to use. Clear, effective communication requires special training in TASL.  This language is new, and there are not very many people who are qualified to teach it[1]. Tactile Communications will provide this training directly to clients, without the expensive and inconvenient use of interpreters.  This combination of language and communication training will allow DeafBlind people to gain the social skills they need to become self-confident, active, participants in their local communities, in the workforce, and in their families and social networks.

​What is TASL?
Educational resources are currently being produced and will be available shortly. We have provided a short, provisional summary of current knowledge about the linguistic structure of TASL below.

Tactile American Sign Language (TASL) is scaffolded on Visual American Sign Language (VASL), the language of the sighted, American Deaf Community. Since the inception of the pro-tactile movement in 2007, the grammatical structure of TASL has been diverging from VASL. TASL has developed new linguistic mechanisms for pointing to things in the environment, keeping track of the topic of the conversation, and describing things and events in terms of their size, shape, texture, and positioning in space. The grammatical systems that have been most immediately affected by these changes are the phonological system, the deictic system, and the “classifier” system. Research is currently being conducted by linguists at Gallaudet University in order to understand these changes, as well as the social and interactional conditions that are giving rise to them. More information can be found on the linguistic status of TASL here:
and here: