Tactile-Body Perspective

Question: What does our tactile-bodily experience tell us? How does that experience shape our concepts and language?

Our Tactile-Bodily Experience

When we say “tactile perspective” we seeing-hearing people think primarily of what we touch through our hands. To understand the tactile perspective of a child who is deafblind we must think further than our own finger tips.

Consider what information is gathered through the hair moving on our arms when the breeze is gently blowing on a sunny day. We feel the sun on our face even if we may not pay particular attention to it. We are aware of the breeze even though we might be more focused on something else. These sensations come to us tactually. Automatically. Much like visual and auditory information. However, if we lack the visual reference of the sun in the sky or the auditory reference of the breeze moving through the trees, how might we relate these concepts? What is the language we use to communicate this tactile-bodily feeling of the breeze in our hair or the sun on our face?

Surely the English word “sun” has a different meaning here; not one that is bright, yellow, or setting on the horizon. From a tactile-body perspective, we might use language such as warm or hot, and express that language through movement and touch sensation. What does the word breeze or wind mean in this context? It is not enough for us to speak or sign these words. We must express ourselves through the modal context of the tactile-bodily experience.

We invite you to listen to Paul Hart, Head of Research and Practice for SENSE Scotland, as he shares his thoughts on “language from a tactile perspective”.

A person with sight and hearing needs a radical shift in perspective in order to experience and understand the world from a tactile perspective, which is the way that people who are deafblind experience their world. 

– Landscape of Touch

Girl examining statue

Paul Hart Video:  Meaning Conveyed Through Touch