Tactile interpreting is a way of communication for those who are blind and deaf or hard of hearing. One person, the tactile interpreter, puts a hand either on top of or below the other person’s hand. They will then make tactile signs on the person’s hand so that they can feel and understand what’s being said. This method of communication can also be done with two hands. While interpreters do directly communicate the conversation, they actually do more than simply translate words. They also describe the person’s facial features, body language, and the environment, providing their client with the same experience anyone else would have.
Tactile services offer a number of different advantages. A tactile sign requires no hearing or vision, so it’s ideal for those who have difficulty with both of these senses or are fully deafblind. Tactile signing doesn’t take long to learn, especially since the interpreter can always simply spell out words. This is called tactile fingerspelling and can be done either using the one-handed ASL alphabet or using the two-handed Deafblind alphabet.
Of course, tactile ASL has a large vocabulary that turns entire words into a few quick gestures, so full conversations can be held quickly. There are a number of different methods that can be used, including co-active singing (moving the deafblind person’s hands or arms), on-body singing (touching other parts of the body besides the hands), and Lorm, which makes use of a special hand-touch alphabet.
Tactile signage isn’t that hard to learn, either. Co-active signing is often used to help teach children and those who have lost their senses, how to sign, but many then move on to a different form that is faster. Many also learn how to read Braille, and there’s a method of tactile communication that involves tapping six different parts of a person’s palm in order to create a letter in Braille.
There are many tactile signing services available for hire. These professionals are often trained in a number of different signing techniques and alphabets. They can assist those in need with a variety of different tasks, including teaching them new signing methods or vocabulary, providing interpreting services for events, communicating information presented in documents that aren’t available in Braille, and more. These services are reasonably priced, and many are done on an hourly rate. They are available in most areas.