Exploring Protactile Language in Early Childhood
May 25, 2022
June 12, 2023
Hayley, Deanna and Jenna here, below we will share updates, fun facts, tips, and resources.
Our individual messages to the readers:
This is Deanna, I’m so excited to get this project off the ground! The last couple of months have involved a lot of start-up work. Hayley and I have been making connections at schools and with community members and families. Read below for some of the specifics. It’s an honor to be doing this work alongside Hayley and to invite new members to our team!
Hayley here, with few thoughts to share. For so long, we have needed this opportunity for interactions and education between DeafBlind adults and DeafBlind children. We have had many barriers to early language learning, education, support, and resources. With many well-intended support and resources, there is no authentic opportunity like the one we have right now. Children grow languages, and we are excited to learn how our PT language will grow!
Jenna here, and I'm so grateful to be a part of this project team and to learn from all of you! As shared below, my team at Saint Louis University is involved in the design and making of wearable haptic (touch) devices that will support our learning and data collection throughout this project. We are so thrilled to be a part of this genuine collaboration and to witness the amazing evolution of the PT language!
We are happy to announce that we have two members joining our team: Jason “Jaz” Herbers and Jay Rhodes. Jaz will be a consultant, focusing on DeafBlind accessibility and adaptive technology. Jay is a DeafBlind Masters student in Deaf Studies, and will be working in our newly renovated research lab, helping us get it all set up. We send our heartfelt thanks to Robert Sirvage for lab space consultation.
Jaz and Jay join our current team who includes the consultation of: Jelica Nuccio, John Lee Clark, Roberto Cabrera, Dr. Terra Edwards, and Dr. Marie Coppola, along with our Research team members Marjorie Bates and Jessica Ennis at Gallaudet, and Nicolas Prudencio Rojas at St. Louis University.
Here's a recap of where we have been and what we have been doing:
In September, Deanna and Hayley met with Jenna and her team at Saint Louis University in Missouri to begin haptic device development, which will be used as a data collection tool for pre-linguistic cognitive processing assessment. During that time Hayley and Deanna also consulted with Roberto, Jaz, and John about the start-up of the project.
In October, Deanna and Hayley visited both campuses of the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB) in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. They expressed full support for our project, and we had a series of productive discussions with various stakeholders from the school. We met with Superintendent Annette Reichman and we are excited to know we have her full support.
Also, a very exciting development - ASDB gave us a dedicated room on each campus to work with the kids! We are excited to set them up in the PT way! While we were there, we hosted a small meet and greet in Phoenix with DB community members and families with DB kids. We will have more during our next visits to Arizona.
In November, we presented a case study from the previous small RAPID grant at Boston University Conference for Language Development. The stage talk was well-received, and everyone was very supportive and excited about our next steps. Several people tweeted about the presentation, including Dr. Amy Lieberman who wrote “History about to be made at @TheBUCLD with the first-ever presentation given in Protactile: Deanna Gagne, Hayley Broadway, Marjorie Bates and Jessica Ennis: Not all touch is the same: A case study of a DeafBlind child interacting with a DeafBlind adult #bucld47”
Onwards, we are already planning several happenings in early 2023, starting with the DeafBlind Education Symposium. We are presenting at the Pre-Symposium session on Thursday, February 23rd (need to find details on this) in Round Rock, TX. (link here)
After generous support from the schools in Arizona on our last visit, we are eagerly planning our next visits, especially to host our first of many trainings in Arizona for Spring 2023 and to begin work and design planning for our newly designated space for this project. We will share updates on this in the next newsletter.
Lastly, our team will give a presentation this spring on community participation in research at the University of Puerto Rico
Did you know?
Protactile language is an intuitive, living, and literally growing language that can be used solely in tactile modality. When protactile language emerged among DeafBlind adults in 2007, there was already a foundation of English language or American Sign Language in their upbringings. With this project, we are going to focus on language acquisition and development in DeafBlind children from infancy to five years old. It is known that children grow languages, and we are excited to learn how PT will grow over the years with their contributions too.
Tap your hand on the other person’s body (e.g. lap or arm) when you are expressing an affirmative, like you would when you say or sign “yes” or if you are nodding your head. Also! You can adjust your taps based on our emotions, reactions, and context. Feel free to tap fast or slow, with vigor or however you want the other person to know how you are feeling. To say “no” or “stop,” or just a negation, use your speaking hand on the other person’s body in a side to side motion. Emphasis and tone in the expression is intuitive.
For any questions or information, contact us at PTkids@gallaudet.edu. Until next time!
MA Research Assistant