English Transcription of aj and Jelica’s
Pro-Tactile Vlog #3:
[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!