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].