Main content

Alert message

Touch or the tactual sense is extremely important to individuals who are visually impaired or deafblind.  Not only does the child or individual have to develop the tactual skills the average person might need, but they also typically will use their sense of touch to compensate for the vision and/or hearing loss in accessing information about the world.  As family members and professionals or paraprofessionals, we are not familiar with tactual instructional strategies for the most part and struggle to teach many concepts exclusively through the tactual medium.

Barbara Miles notes in her article, Talking the Language of the Hands to the Hands, how individuals with deafblindness will use their hands differently:

Often the hands of a person who is deafblind must assume an additional role. Not only must they be tools (as they are for all people who have use of their hands), and sense organs (to compensate for their missing vision and hearing), but they must also become voice, or the primary means of expression. Sign language and gesture will often become the main avenue for expressive communication. For these tasks, the hands must be skilled in a unique way, able to express such things as tone, nuance of feeling, and emphasis of meaning in addition to being able to form words.

Because the hands of a person who is deafblind are so important — functioning as tools, sense organs, and voice — it is crucial for educators, parents, and friends of people who are deafblind to become especially sensitive to hands.

Learn more about touch and the tactual sense by exploring the information included on this webpage.

Articles about Touch

Talking the Language of the Hands to the Hands - Source: DB Link

Feeling Groovy: Functional Tactual Skills - Source:  See/Hear Newsletter from TSBVI

From Active Touch to Tactile Communication - What’s Tactile Cognition Got to Do With It? - Source: Deafblind International

Mutual Tactile Attention - Source: Project SALUTE

Some Things to Learn from Learning Through Touch - Source: See/Hear Newsletter from TSBVI

Tactile Communication Strategies - Source: Project SALUTE

Tactile Modeling - Source: Project SALUTE


Information on Websites

Touch (Be sure to check out the individual profile form on your child's sense of touch ( - Source: Project SPARKLE



Reflections on Deafblindness:  The Role of Touch - Source: Perkins