Sign Construction Based on Heightened Tactile Perception by Persons with Congenital Deafblindness

Goran A.G.C. Forsgren, Marlene Daelman, Paul Hart


Low readability is a main concern regarding communication with persons with congenital deafblindness (Nafstad & Rødbroe, 2015). This is because most of the expressions come from the bodily-tactile modality and are often based on tactile iconicity. It is difficult for a seeing and hearing partner to understand these expressions from the perspective of cultural language.

The goal of this qualitative study is to show the emergence of sign constructions based on heightened tactile perception (Borchgrevink, 2002; Nicholas, 2004). Two videos, each showing one of two participants with congenital deafblindness, were subjected to qualitative micro-analysis. A key focus of this research concerns the combination of exploration and cognitive processing indicated by self-addressed expressions, and how this combination contributes to sign constructions. The linguistic quality of these sign constructions is further examined by detailing handshape, movement and location according to the work by Stokoe, 1960 and Bellugi & Klima, 2001. The results provide support for the proposition of a new sign category based on heightened tactile perception. 

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