Here’s a development in the DeafBlind world that New Yorker reporter Andrew Leland describes as a new language. In DeafBlind Communities May be Creating a New Language of Touch, Leland writes about ProTactile, a mode of communication that moves beyond sign language and into the world of touch, where the body becomes a canvas upon which to project words and ideas. For a demonstration, see the video above.
A central character in this piece is Eden Prairie resident John Lee Clark, an early practitioner and now a ProTactile instructor. As Leland puts it, the ProTactile method “encourag(es) DeafBlind people to reject the stigma, in American culture, against touch, which often leaves them cut off from the world around them. According to Protactile’s principles, rather than waiting for an interpreter to tell her about the apples available at the grocery store, a DeafBlind person should plunge her hands into the produce bins. If a sighted friend pulls out her phone in the middle of a conversation to check a weather alert, she should bring her DeafBlind interlocutor’s hand to her pocket as well, to understand where the weather forecast is coming from.”
If you’re hoping to stay abreast of the broad, fraught and always-changing nature of human communication, this is a piece that ought to be on your list.