Monday, March 14, 2016

Pro-Tactile Vlog #5

English Transcription of aj and Jelica's
Pro-Tactile Vlog Transcript #5:
March 2016

Image description: two women sitting in front of a dark navy blue wall. The woman sitting to the left, is aj, who has her long hair down, wearing a pair of sunglasses with checkered arms, black long sleeve button up shirt, and black pants with a black belt. The woman sitting to the right is Jelica, who has wavy hair that’s let down, wearing a pair of glasses, and a one-pieced long black dress. 

[aj taps Jelica]. 
aj: Hi, I’m aj!. [aj smiling presents turn to Jelica]. 

Jelica: [smiles] Hello, finally! My name is Jelica, (fingerspells name), J-E-L-I-C-A  N-U-C-C-I-O [presents turn to aj]. 

aj: Hi! Welcome back to our ProTactile vlog.” [Jelica nodding and tapping on aj’s knee with a grin]. We have not posted a vlog in over two years! WOW! [Jelica nods and taps on aj’s knee with a big smile]. We, Jelica and I, were sharing our memories with our past vlogs, the first, second, and third vlogs and felt amazed with how popular it was. It drew in many viewers from all over the US and around the world, too! WOW! [Jelica repeatedly taps aj’s knee and nods in acknowledgement as aj signs]. Since then, we both have been extremely busy focusing on developing a ProTactile (PT) curriculum, teaching, performing workshops, expanding PT into the community.

aj: Today, we want to talk about how much more involved the DeafBlind community are in discussing a variety of hot topics. I’m thrilled because that’s a part of PT philosophy! The purpose of PT philosophy is to support DeafBlind culture, language, interpersonal relationships, politics, PT philosophy in whole as that has a true sense of empowerment. [Jelica taps, signs, “right!” on aj’s knee and nods]. Do you recall Deaf history and how that came about? There were issues with the concept of oralism, oppression, SEE (Signed Exact English), AGB (Alexander Graham Bell), and the constant struggle Deaf people had with the use of American Sign Language (ASL). There was such oppression behind the concept of Deaf people utilizing ASL, yet there was such need for it within the Deaf community to thrive. This provoked the Deaf community to get together, support each other and their rights, and as a result of their rectification, ASL prevailed. [Jelica taps aj’s knee and signs “Right!” with a quick glance at the camera and nodded].  

aj: Now, that same kind of process is unfolding in the DeafBlind community. The DeafBlind history parallels with the Deaf history! As the ProTactile movement began to progress, broaden, and grow, there’s been false assumptions about this philosophy and it’s purpose. The terms ‘haptics’ and ‘touch signals’ (ts) were thrown into the mix, and there has been some confusion about how those communication systems differ from ProTactile communication. Do haptics and touch signals have a direct connection to the philosophy of PT? No! And these false assumptions negatively impact our DeafBlind community, our sense of culture, and our language. ProTactile philosophy is not just about “accessing” communication; it affects all areas of life, including DeafBlind culture, politics, empowerment, and language. Therefore, we want to tell you more about how the ProTactile movement is pushing back against many of the assumptions and practices that oppress members of our community.  Jelica, can you tell our audience more about that? [aj looks to Jelica and taps her knee].

Jelica: Yes.  This Monday is Martin Luther King’s (fingerspelled MLK) day. Martin Luther King fought for civil rights for African American people [aj taps Jelica’s leg with a strong nod and smile]. Inspired by King, we are fighting for our rights [aj taps repeatedly and nods with acknowledgement]. So, this is a perfect time to do this vlog! We would like to clarify these misconceptions about the philosophy behind ProTactile. Today’s vlog will focus on the meaning of PT. What does PT mean? Let me provide you with a simple example: [takes aj’s arm and stands it upright like the trunk of a tree] the forearm/trunk of the tree represents ProTactile [Jelica points to aj’s forearm, grabbed ahold of it, moves upwards toward her hand], which supports the following: [grabs aj’s thumb] philosophy, [grabs aj’s index finger] attitude, attitude refers to culture [grabs aj’s middle finger] language. This, language, includes TASL. TASL, like ASL, has evolved over time and it is therefore a language developed by the DeafBlind community. It is NOT the same as touch signals [signs TS] and/or haptics, which did not develop over time, naturally, among DeafBlind people. [Grabs aj’s ring finger] this represents techniques, which includes back-channeling [signs “BC”], or back-back-channeling [BBC]. It has nothing to do with such cues or “codes”! The philosophy behind PT is all innate, a natural form of communication that’s a part of the DeafBlind culture. We want to emphasize that PT is not set list of symbols with associated meanings, like  “touch signals” [Jelica signs, TS for touch signals]. [aj taps repeatedly and nods with acknowledgement].

Jelica: Let’s imagine a scenario/situation, where there is a Deaf child with a hearing family. As this Deaf child matures, his/her/ze(xi) hearing family does not sign or make the effort to include him/her/xi. This child struggles to keep up with the hearing family, struggles with learning their language, and has no sense of culture. As a result, the Deaf child has no sense of identity, culture, or language. Until that Deaf child discovers a Deaf community, becomes exposed to ASL, Deaf culture, and Deaf identity. Through that discovery, their true sense of identity is found - they better associate themselves with the Deaf world. Furthermore, this discovery places a positive impact on their self-esteem, confidence, intelligence, and sense of belonging within the Deaf community. 

Take this similar concept and apply it to a DeafBlind child or person in a sighted world, surrounded by those who are signing. DeafBlind people miss bits of information, and those bits add up to a point where they are left out. They are given simple notifications/cues informing them when their food is ready or a drink is being provided to them. It’s not a natural way of life, to live in such isolation deprived of access to communication, language. PT means that it is OK to touch the people and the things around you so you can reconnect with the world—gain access to communication and language, have the opportunity to be involved with family, and other people in the sighted-world. PT allows people to  establish communication channels through touch in different ways. For instance, sitting at a table, setting up the chairs so that the DeafBlind person is able to sense the person next to them through touch. This also helps people become more comfortable with touch so that over time, tactile practices will become natural to both parties as they acquire an intuition for ProTactile. In doing so, their sense of self-esteem, confidence, and intelligence, will grown and this will further provide them with access to social experiences. It’s not just about giving/receiving simple cues that only inform them that the color of an object is orange or red. That assumes that all DeafBlind people need is a little prompt, and they will remember how to be sighted. DeafBlind people have a right to obtaining information about the world surrounding them in their own way—through touch—and to build on that experience in ProTactile communities. This should help clear up some of the misconceptions people have about PT. [Jelica turns to face aj]  right?! [aj taps repeatedly and nods with acknowledgement], you can’t separate language and culture; that’s not possible [Jelica taps aj’s knee in agreement, turns to face the camera and nods].  

aj: When it comes to teaching ASL and the history of ASL, teachers tend to focus on teaching both language and culture at the same time. For example, as a part of Deaf culture, Deaf people tend to chat all night long in a brightly lit kitchen, they tend have “long good-byes where they repeatedly say goodbye. This type of information is critical, which is always emphasizes in all levels of ASL courses. If a hearing person attempts to learn sign language without learning about Deaf culture they will not succeed on a holistic level in the Deaf world. Therefore, it’s not possible for language to develop without culture [Jelica taps aj’s knee in agreement and nods]. PT includes DeafBlind culture and language, while embracing and dignifying the DeafBlind way of life. The DeafBlind way of life includes everyone, all people [Jelica, taps in agreement and signs, “right!” on aj’s leg and nods strongly]. It’s not about a “special system” to “help” DeafBlind people. That is NOT what PT is about. It’s about how the DeafBlind community as a whole can survive and thrive with everyone involved as one. 

Therefore, touch signals, haptics, and such related codes have some utility, but there’s no culture involved. Things like touch signals and haptics do not emerge out of natural processes, and they do not lead to the true inclusion of DeafBlind people in the sighted world. Maybe most importantly, these types of systems do not provide them with an opportunity to thrive. They not help their sense of self-confidence, self-esteem, or autonomy. These so-called “systems” will not help them to get better jobs or acquire social skills to develop and maintain relationships with people. It’s just simple and basic information, nothing more. It will only provide them with superficial information, not important things like facial expressions/intonations, body language(s), background information, and so forth. 

Right now, I want to make it explicit that DeafBlind people are responsible for establishing a positive and solid relationship with the community. We embrace and value the DeafBlind way and we value ProTactile. We do not want to repeat the struggles the Deaf community endured. We do not want to repeat Deaf history within our DeafBlind community” [Jelica taps aj’s knee in agreement, nods, then turns to face the camera].  

Jelica: Right. We want to ensure that we all work together, as a community. Stand for what we believe in. That’s where we are now, we are advocating for our DeafBlind community to promote a more positive, healthy, and unrestricted future. ASL is not accessible to our community and is therefore not a part of our language. The DeafBlind community is struggling to keep up due to visual ASL. Enough is enough. These so-called “touch signals” do not do us justice. They do not benefit us or do us any good. We need PT as a part of our empowerment in order to live our life and make decisions for ourselves. Language is key to our quality of life. In order to achieve autonomy, we need access to language to thrive. To conclude this, PT is not touch signals [Jelica fingerspells TS]. PT is and includes [Jelica grabs aj’s hand and points to each finger] philosophy, attitude, language, and techniques” [gives aj a high five and then turns to aj]. 

aj: Lastly and importantly, we want all DeafBlind people to take part in this exciting movement, come together, unified as one. We are hopeful and eager to have more DeafBlind people lead with us. Thank you! [aj smiles, while Jelica taps in agreement].

Jelica: Thank you and we love you. [Smiles, and turns to aj, pats “I love you” handshape on aj’s chest. Meanwhile aj, holds onto Jelica’s right hand, while her other hand rests on Jelica’s leg]. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Pro-Tactile Vlog #4

English Transcription of aj and Jelica’s 
Pro-Tactile Vlog #4: 
December 16, 2013

aj: Hello! Welcome to our fourth PT VLOG.

Jelica: [nodding, smiling, tapping aj’s knee]. 

aj: I am aj, and this is…[motioning to Jelica]

Jelica: Hi! I’m Jelica. Today’s topic is…what is today’s topic aj?

aj: Today we’ll be discussing “backchanneling”, which we abbreviate “BC”.  We discussed backchanneling in a previous vlog, but we only touched on some basics, like how to agree with what the person is saying.  There were a lot of comments and questions afterwards about how to disagree, or how to do things other than agree. So our goal today is to respond to your questions [Jelica is tapping on aj’s knee throughout, and their legs are touching. Also, Jelica is listening tactually to everything aj says, and aj is listening tactually to everything Jelica says (as always)]

aj: OK, Jelica, we’re going to demonstrate backchanneling now [Jelica taps aj’s knee to agree].  Everyone: watch how Jelica responds with this hand on my leg, OK? Ready? Here I go.  [Transcriber’s note: I cannot include every signal that is exchanged. However, keep in mind, while reading the transcript, that feedback between aj and Jelica is constant. The listener is either tapping, signing something, or placing their hand on the signer without moving it at all times.] 

aj: Oh my gosh—last night [Jelica taps aj’s leg once] I lost my cane![Jelica taps aj’s leg once] I looked and looked and couldn’t find it.[Jelica pushes her flat palm down on aj’s leg and holds it there.]. I think I might have left it at your house? [Jelica signs “NO” on aj’s leg]. I didn’t? Hmmm… Oh, that’s right! Bob was with us last night, wasn’t he? [Jelica signs ”YES” on aj’s leg, bouncing the sign up and down, like knocking on a door]. Oh, so I guess Bob took it by accident. [Jelica signs “RIGHT” on aj’s leg with one, strong motion down, a pause and then another]. That’s what happened.

aj: [to audience] See how that works? It is easy to tell the difference between those three signs: YES, NO, and RIGHT.  And Jelica didn’t have to interrupt the stream of conversation to give me that feedback. I didn’t have to have my hand on her hand. She just signed on my knee, and I could continue talking, knowing that she was interested and participating. Do you want to add anything, Jelica?

Jelica: Getting that kind of feedback helps our brains process information, and it makes communicating with other people feel natural and enjoyable. Pro-tactile is all about finding natural ways to communicate—“natural” is my favorite word these days [Jelica smiles and pauses, aj smiles and taps Jelica’s leg several times, then signs YES on Jelica’s knee, with one, strong, downward motion]. So anyway, aj, do you think it might be a good idea to give them another example? [aj taps Jelica’s leg several times, Jelica signs THINKING]. 

Jelica: I have been doing some work in the back yard [aj taps Jelica’s leg] planting lots of different flowers [when aj is not tapping, she leaves her hand on Jelica’s leg]. But I’ve really been having trouble because I’m not sure if they’re getting enough sun. Have you had that experience? [aj signs NO on Jelica’s leg]. I need someone who can help me! Do you know who?

aj: You can ask Mary, the DeafBlind woman who just moved here. She knows all about flowers. [Jelica signs RIGHT, and then continues signing RIGHT on aj’s knee] 

Jelica: So that’s the idea. The listener doesn’t have to interrupt. They can just respond on the knee of the person who is signing. The way I touch the person’s knees depends on how well I know them.  OK, so let’s move on to the next example. 

Jelica: [to aj] Have you been to that restaurant—Coa? It’s a Mexican restaurant. Have you been? [aj is signing NO on Jelica’s leg, frowning, and turning her head back and forth].  No? Why not! 

aj: I don’t know! I never knew it existed! 

Jelica: Would you be interested in going? [aj taps quickly many times in a row on Jelica’s leg]

Jelica: [to audience] [points to aj’s tapping hand and says:] that’s good. I can tell that she’s genuinely excited to go. She wants to try that place out without having to ask her explicitly if she’s excited, and without having to wait for her explicit response. That was the way we used to do it, but it feels unnatural and slow [aj taps several times, hard on Jelica’s hand, grabs onto it and shakes it, while leaning back and smiling in agreement]. Pro-tactile backchanneling [“BC”] involves transfering all of the feelings, expressions, and cues that we used to see on people’s faces to the hands and legs. As Pro-tactile people, we express feelings and other information through our hands instead through our faces, and we feel all of that through our legs, rather than through our eyes. None of this is a “technique” or set of rules that you can learn. If you start thinking like a tactile person, it will come naturally. Think about how you can express yourself in a genuine, and direct way, through touch. It isn’t easy at first. You have to shift your attention away from what you see and toward what you feel, and you have to communicate often with other pro-tactile people---without letting visual stuff get in the way [aj signs RIGHT on Jelica’s leg and taps several times]. 

aj: And again, I want to borrow Jelica’s favorite word: NATURAL. People often want to know what the “rules” are for backchanneling. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s about developing tactile sensibilities and understanding what it means to be a tactile person. Once you have done that, you will intuitively be able to express your feelings through touch [Jelica tapping vigorously on aj’s leg]. OK, so that’s all for now on backchanneling. Have fun practicing! 

Jelica: Have fun! [both smiling, hand folded together on their laps. There is an awkward paus before the camera is shut off and aj squeezes Jelica’s hand, while laughing]. 

Pro-Tactile Vlog #3

English Transcription of aj and Jelica’s 
Pro-Tactile Vlog #3: 
August 2013

[Note: Jelica and aj are both using tactile reception with each other]

Jelica: Hello! Welcome to Part Three of our Vlog! I am Jelica [Name sign: Y from shoulder to waist across the torso.], and…

aj: I’m aj!! [aj is signing with two active hands, duplicating all signs]. It’s great to see you all again! 

Jelica: Yes! Today we’re going to talk about something called “haptics”. First, I’d like to explain what the word “haptics” means. [Note: aj and Jelica are both tapping on each-other’s hands and legs to let each other know they are listening, and how they feel about what is being said.]. In the dictionary, it says that the word “haptics” has to do with “the sense of touch.” So that is a very broad definition. Haptics is anything that involves the sense of touch. Some researchers in Europe did a study and found that the sense of touch, as a tool for communication is, indeed, very important for DeafBlind people. They published a book in Denmark about a specific set of techniques that were developed there, based on that insight. 

Some people are under the impression that these techniques, known as “haptics” are the same as pro-tactile practices, but they’re not the same. Would you like to tell us more about how they are different, aj?

aj: At first, I wasn’t sure why people were comparing them. It seemed like people would hear about “pro-tactile”, and mistakenly think: haptics. Some people were saying they are the same and some people were saying they’re different.  So first, I did what Jelica did. I looked in the dictionary, and found that haptics has to do with the sense of touch, and specifically, using touch as a way of showing emotion. So for example, if I hug you, that is an expression of love. However, that is not what we mean by “pro-tactile” or “PT”.  

There is a lot I could say about this, but I’m going to boil it down to just the most central point. Remember a long time ago, when researchers were just proving that ASL was a true language? And even though Deaf people knew better, many hearing people were dismissive, claiming that ASL wasn’t a language, but mere “gesture”?  That is similar to what is happening now. Haptics is comparable to “gesture”, whereas PT involves real, systematic language and communication. 

Jelica: [tapping aj’s knee in agreement]. Yes, and this relates to a topic that has been receiving a lot of attention lately—the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC). Apparently, the administration there is under the impression that haptics and PT are the same thing and they have been telling people that. Our goal today is to clear this misunderstanding up. There is official proof that PT is a formal system. It includes Tactile American Sign Language (TASL), which is not the same language as Visual American Sign Language (VASL).  We will explain more about that in the next vlog. But for today, our goal has been to clarify, and to answer your questions about this potentially confusing issue. 

aj: I have one more thing to add.  Some people have been saying that haptics is for professional use—things like teaching, giving lectures, etc., while PT is for “socializing”. That is not at all true. Haptics is its own thing that really has nothing to do with PT. Recall that in a recent vlog, we told you that PT can be used for everything~ for professional settings, social settings, personal settings…there is no limit to how PT can be used. 

Jelica: I have one more point to make as well. We are not saying that haptics should be avoided. It is fine to incorporate haptics as a tool---some of their techniques are very useful. Anyone can use haptics—hearing, deaf, etc. But it is not formal the way that PT is. It is a little like “Deafhood”, which a lot of people are talking about now. Deafhood involves so many things—ASL, culture, who you are, your identity---that is exactly what PT is.   It involves all of those things. I think that is the best way to understand it in terms that are most familiar. aj? What do you think?

aj: Yeah, I think that pretty much sums up the differences between haptics and PT. Thank you, 
Jelica! [both smiling at audience]. 

Jelica: Sure! [said to audience:] Now good luck explaining this to others! 

Pro-Tactile Vlog #2

English Transcription of aj and Jelica’s 
Pro-Tactile Vlog #2 
March 7, 2013

[aj and Jelica are wearing black clothes, blue background. Both receiving signs tactually. Both smiling politely when camera starts recording. Jelica extends hand toward aj, giving her the floor.]

aj granda: Hello everyone! I’m aj granda [extends hand toward Jelica to give her the floor.]

Jelica Nuccio: Hi!! I’m Jelica [bounces once, enthusiastically as she signs `hi!’ Both smiling big smiles. aj taps Jelica’s forearm several times as Jelica introduces herself. Then makes scratching motion on Jelica’s forearm]. I’m excited to say something! [aj continues to tap on Jelica’s forearm]. So many.,[turns to aj] how many?

aj granda: Over 10,000 people watched our vlog!!! [duplicating signs on left and right hand]. It’s shocking!! [both aj and Jelica smiling, Jelica tapping aj’s arm enthusiastically]. 

Jelica Nuccio: It is really inspiring.  Thank you SO MUCH everyone. [aj tapping Jelica’s arm rapidly in agreement].  I noticed that there are many emails as well, and we are thrilled to receive them. We are planning to keep all of the questions you’ve sent, right aj?

aj granda: Absolutely. And we will answer as many of them as we can. We will also be mailing as many transcripts as we can, and answering comments on Facebook. There’s a lot to do right now, but we will get back to you as soon as we can! Jelica?

Jelica Nuccio: I am blown away all of this, really [transcriber’s note: tactile feedback- tapping on arms—is almost constant both ways. Transcript will not include all of it]. Now, we want to talk, just briefly, about BC. If you recall, last time, we were seated. This time, we’re standing, so you can see how BC works. aj, would you like to explain what BC means?

aj granda: Yes, I was just about to jump in and explain that. BC stands for “backchanneling”. We abbreviate that “BC”. Backchanneling is the number one most important pro-tactile [PT] practice. 

Jelica Nuccio: Backchanneling is incredibly powerful. It is an intuitive way of  maintaining co-presence and a sense of connection with one another. So right now, aj is tapping my forearm, and that works like a head-nod would for sighted people. Before, when we were seated, we used the leg [Jelica reaches for aj’s leg and aj smiles big while she balances and lets Jelica pull her leg into view. They are balancing awkwardly.] That’s too awkward when you’re standing.  So it is better that we use the forearm when we are standing [Jelica and aj both pause to laugh. Jelica pulls aj’s hand to her throat, so she can feel the vibration of her laughter]. OK, now I’ll turn it over to aj.

aj granda: Yes, using the leg would be awkward while standing. Many people asked us how backchanneling would work while standing, so that is the next thing we’ll be showing you today. If you are standing side by side, both facing the same direction, tapping on the forearm the way we’ve been doing is the best. If, on the other hand, you’re facing one another, talking, then you do something else, which we’re going to show you now. You talk, Jelica [both facing one another now]. 

Jelica Nuccio: So you were asking me what I did today, well, I partied down last night. [aj is tapping on the outside portion of Jelica’s forearm, rather than the inside, like before]. I forget where [brings aj’s hand to her throat and laughs. aj laughs too, and then smacks Jelica’s shoulder and says, “You’re funny.” ]. So now, it’s your turn.

aj granda: Well, I have something better than your party. I am completely addicted to You Tube [Jelica leaves her hand motionless on aj’s arm, not registering recognition as aj spells “You Tube”] and I watch it every day [Jelica smacks aj’s outer forearm several times, emphatically. Both laugh, and turn toward camera again].  

aj granda: That is how you do backchanneling while facing one another. I don’t know if it’s clear or not on this video, but what is important is for you to stay 100% connected to the person you’re talking to by touching them. You really have to remember to give a constant stream of tactile feedback.

Jelica Nuccio: Now, we’ll give you an example of what a conversation would look like without tactile backchanneling. 

aj granda: She read my mind [smiling], I was planning to do that next! OK, OK [excitedly]. [turns to camera and says] Back in the old days, it was like this: Do you know who Bob is [question sign]. [Jelica is slow to respond and aj taps her impatiently on the hand] Do you know who?

Jelica Nuccio: OH, no, no I don’t. 

aj granda: OH, OK, I’ll introduce you tonight, OK [question sign]

Jelica Nuccio: [pauses] Oh, OK [flatly]. 

aj granda: Fine, so….[waits, Jelica does not answer, taps Jelica on hand impatiently]. 

Jelica Nuccio: Oh, sorry, I didn’t know what I was supposed to say next. 

aj granda: [turns toward camera]. That was awkward! If there’s no tactile feedback, you can’t be sure if the person is smiling, nodding their head, etc., so the timing is all off, and it’s really awkward [Jelica starts tapping aj’s forearm again]. That’s better! Now I feel like I’m connected again. [looks at camera] Backchanneling is like my lifeline, you know?

Jelica Nuccio: YES!!! I feel the same way! [emphatically]. Touch is so important. [Turns toward camera. YOU MUST USE TOUCH AT ALL TIMES! NO EXCEPTIONS! 

aj granda: That’s right. And now we have to close for today. From now on, we’re planning to keep our vlogs short and sweet and to the point, and we’ll try to post as often as we can. Thank you so much for watching our vlog. Keep sending us emails, too! Thank you!!! And again, this is aj and I am Jelica [aj wave-claps and both smile at camera]. 

Pro-Tactile Vlog #1

English Transcription of aj and Jelica’s vlog: 
Welcome to Pro-Tactile: The DeafBlind Way 
February 14, 2013 

Jelica Nuccio: Hello! Welcome to our very first vlog [aj taps Jelica vigorously on the knee and smiles. Both are receiving signs tactually, and their legs are touching] Called... 

aj granda: Pro-tactile! We abbreviate that, “P-T”. 

Jelica Nuccio: PT! My name is Jelica, and my sign name is a Y across the chest [from shoulder to waist.] [both aj and Jelica are smiling at one another. When aj signs, Jelica listens with one hand and has her other hand on aj’s knee, tapping often to let aj know she is listening, sometimes with more force to signal strong agreement, for example. Both presenters are wearing all black and are signing in front of a blue background.]. 

aj granda: I am aj granda and my name sign is “aj”.

Jelica Nuccio: Our goal today is to introduce something that has been drawing a lot of attention lately, and that is “PT” [Jelica extends her arms toward aj to invite her to continue]. 

aj granda: Indeed, PT has been drawing a lot of attention lately. And I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been so supportive, so curious, and so enthusiastic about it. And thank you also for your patience. Jelica and I started developing PT several years ago, and things have been moving fairly slowly. We both have jobs and families, and in general, we have busy lives. But PT has spread across the country and there is a clear demand for more information, so we have finally decided to make this vlog a priority. We plan to post regularly from here on out. [aj is signing with two hands at the same time. For example, In Visual ASL, the sign CURIOUS would be a one-handed sign. aj signs this sign with two hands—one copy for each hand]. 

Jelica Nuccio: That’s right, aj. And I wanted to add—I am DeafBlind and Ushers. Aj is also DeafBlind and Ushers. We both live in Seattle, and most of the people who have contributed to the development of these practices also live in Seattle. Some come from outside of Seattle as well. We want to thank those people. You might notice that aj and I are taking turns and tapping each other’s knees as we communicate [aj pats Jelica’s knee emphatically]. That is part of PT. Now, aj, can you explain why we call these things “pro-tactile”? 
aj granda: Yes, absolutely. Many people have asked me why we call it “pro-tactile”. Well, when we put pro- before another word, we usually mean that we support whatever that second word stands for. Tactile, you might think means tactile reception of signs. So many people assume that what “pro-tactile” means is essentially “support tactile reception”. 
Jelica Nuccio: But that’s not it! [aj taps Jelica’s knee hard, two times, in agreement]. 
aj granda: Right. It doesn’t mean that at all. In the DeafBlind world, people do not all use tactile reception. Many people do, but we are not saying that people have to do that. That’s your decision. Remember what tactile really means is “touch”. “Pro-tactile” really means that we value touch for purposes of communication. During this presentation, Jelica and I have been giving each other tactile feedback the whole time, tapping on each other’s legs, and hands, and shoulders, and arms. That is pro-tactile. 
Jelica Nuccio: Yes, and when you start from there—from a place of valuing touch for communication, this leads you to the DeafBlind way. So for example, Deaf people communicate a lot using facial expressions and the particular ways that they do that is part of their culture [aj taps emphatically on Jelica’s knee]. Even if one Deaf person uses Visual ASL, and the other one does not, they are still both visual people, who respond to visual cues as communications. We know there is a lot of diversity in our community in terms of communication, and that is fine. The only thing that matters is touch. Without a mutual understanding of the value of touch, there can be no communication. [Jelica points to aj’s hand, where it is tapping excitedly on her knee]. What aj is doing right now is a perfect example. That is how I know that she is listening and how she feels about what I am saying. When Deaf, sighted people communicate with each other, they know that the other person is listening because they nod their heads, their jaw might go slack in amazement, their eyes might widen. DeafBlind people miss out on that kind of information [aj continues to tap on Jelica’s knee enthusiastically, and also signs YES repeatedly on Jelica’s knee]. Hearing people say “hmmmmmm...” when they are listening to one another and this accomplishes the same function as facial expressions for Deaf people. But when Deaf people are talking to hearing people, they don’t attend to those sorts of noises. They focus on the hearing person’s facial expressions and body language and that is how they establish a connection with them. That is how they get a sense of who that person is and how they can relate to them. Deaf people have visible ways of doing that. Hearing people have audible ways of doing that. Being pro-tactile means recognizing that DeafBlind people have tactile ways of doing the same things. When aj taps my leg in certain ways at certain times, it tells me something about what kind of person she is and I have a sense of how we are relating to one another. Touch is our way of being present with one another. It’s about touch. It’s that simple! 
aj granda: Yes, although, its simplicity can be deceiving. To reiterate what Jelica has just said--- you can see that I am nodding my head right now. Does Jelica know that I am nodding my head? How do you know? 
Jelica Nuccio: Head nodding is not natural. [aj taps Jelica’s knee rapidly several times]. That [pointing to aj’s hand] is natural. 
aj granda: [nods head and taps Jelica’s knee in the same rhythm]. The head nodding and knee- tapping match. They serve the same function [Jelica nods and smiles at the camera]. If you’re going to nod your head, you have to tap on the knee of the person you are nodding at the same time. Otherwise, they don’t know you are agreeing with them. That is the kind of thing that allows us to share information with one another, and that is being pro-tactile is all about. One way I like to explain PT is to compare it to using a TTY. You might remember what that was like—when the person you were talking with would type and type and type, and you already knew what they were saying, you already had that information. In person, you would just tell them, “Yeah, I know that already,” but the way the TTY was set up, you couldn’t interrupt, so you just had to sit there and wait until they were done. Finally, after what seemed like an unbearably long time, you would see the letters, “G-A” at which point you would tell the person, “Yeah, I already knew that. You didn’t have to tell me.” So the constraints of the technology made for some really frustrating and inefficient interactions. 
Well, before PT, DeafBlind communication was like that. Interactions were limited and we didn’t have access to all of the cues that make things smoother and more efficient. Pro-tactile communication is immediate. Turn-taking is seamless. There are no awkward time lags or frustrating constraints. Information is received when it is produced, and there is a constant stream of information coming from the person you are talking to---like now, how Jelica is touching my knee and giving me constant feedback. It’s fantastic! 
Jelica Nuccio: And these ways of communicating feel natural very quickly. So you might be asking yourself why PT didn’t happen sooner. Well, the reason is that hearing and Deaf people have been dominant in our community until now. They thought that they were the ones with all of the knowledge and expertise about us, and we thought that was true. But that meant that we had to try to do things the sighted way. That is why we were under so much stress, why we felt that we were slow in learning things, and why we were always the last to know what was going on. For example, if a sighted person was doing something and a DeafBlind person was waiting to talk to them, the sighted person would say, “Hold on.” Then they would drop the DeafBlind person’s hand and leave them standing there, not knowing what was going on. They might say, “I’ll explain later.” That is not natural for us. If those two people were pro-tactile, then the DeafBlind person would be able to leave their hand on the hand of the sighted person while they did whatever they needed to do, and the DeafBlind person would know what was going on the whole time. Pro-tactile is inclusive---it allows us to be involved in what is going on when it is going on. For example, if a person is having a conversation with their friend, they don’t have to tell you, “I’m talking to my friend, I’ll tell you about it later.” They can just invite you to observe the conversation tactually. So one of the basic ideas behind the pro-tactile movement is that we can be involved in our environments without interpreters describing everything to us after the fact. We can feel things for ourselves. Everyone likes to watch what other people are doing and what other people are saying to each other. Human beings are eavesdroppers, and DeafBlind people are no exception. 
aj granda: I agree with everything you’ve said, Jelica. And I want to emphasize: Pro-Tactile is a philosophy that guides action in everyday life. It is a socio-cultural movement that is affecting personal, political, and one more thing—what was it? 
Jelica Nuccio: And linguistic! 
aj granda: Yes! And Linguistic dimensions of our everyday lives. 
Jelica Nuccio: Yes, that is just a very brief introduction to the meaning of “pro-tactile”. From here, we will have a series of vlog posts. The first one will be an in-depth discussion of “backchanneling”. Following that, we will talk about TASL (not TSL). And those are just our first topics. We plan to post many more vlogs in the near future. We will be talking about all of the different aspects of pro-tactile philosophy---its personal, political, and linguistic implications. 
We will talk about how pro-tactile practices can affect your work environment, your relationships with other people, and more. 
aj granda: For now, we’re going to have to end the vlog. But in our next appearance, we will explain backchanneling. We will be giving you some examples, and show you how to do it yourselves. After that, we’ll be talking about TASL, and we will go from there. We are glad to have this opportunity to introduce ourselves to you, and give you a brief introduction to pro- tactile philosophy. Thank you to you all, and we are so excited to share this with you. 
Jelica Nuccio: Wait! There is one last thing. Pro-tactile practices are for everyone. Deaf people can be pro-tactile if they communicate the DeafBlind way. Hearing people can be pro-tactile if they communicate the DeafBlind way. Hard of hearing people can too! Pro-tactile is the DeafBlind way, and it is creating a world that is natural for us. That is it. Thank you very much for watching. 
aj granda: Thank you everyone for joining us in our new world! Go pro-tactile!!!

Jelica Nuccio: This is aj [name sign: aj], and I am Jelica [name sign: Y across chest from shoulder to hip]. 

aj granda: Thank you [to Jelica] Bye everyone! [Jelica leans over and rests head on aj’s shoulder. They both smile, and squeeze each other’s hands].