How an Intervention on the Bodily Tactile Modality Can Improve Communication


  • Hellen Shakele
  • Kenneth Kapalu Muzata
  • Anne Nafstad
  • Jacques Souriau



congenital deafblindness, reciprocation and imitation, role model intervention, bodily tactile modality


Introduction: In this case study, performed in a home situation in Zambia, it was assumed that the child with congenital deafblindness had too poor vision to access sign language without support by the bodily tactile modality. The aim was to explore if a theoretically based intervention on Communicative Relations with a role model who demonstrates communication in the bodily tactile modality and builds on knowledge and competence in sign language can improve bodily tactile aspects of communication between the child and her mother and brother. Method: This study has a qualitative single case study design, which enabled a close analysis of the communication between the child and her mother and brother, by a reflective team. Four members of the reflective team provided insight into the videorecorded episodes in home situations such as bathing and play. Data analysis took place before and after the intervention. The intervention was performed by the researcher as a role model, who is a mother herself, and well trained in the Diamond Model and Dialogical Model underlying the theory of Communicative Relations ( Nafstad & Rodbroe, 2015). Results: The results demonstrated that the intervention with the application of aspects of the Diamond Model was effective in face-to-face interaction, gestures and social interaction, and the application of aspects of the Dialogical Model enhanced the ability to reciprocate signs during the interaction. The findings in this study clarify how use of sign language and hand positions can benefit persons with CDB to improve their communication. The study has shown how competent mother and brother were communicating with the child after intervention using ZSL, reciprocation and imitation and hand positions. The utterances that were addressed by the child to the partners in gestural expressions were answered by the partners. Lastly, it has shown the need to focus on whole-body communication, understanding, and relating to communicative expressions. Conclusion and discussion: It can be concluded that the intervention had indeed a positive effect on a variety of bodily tactile communication aspects between the child and her family communication partners. The role model approach that was used in this study enabled mother and brother and child to learn through reciprocation of roles and imitation. It is a natural form of learning which does not necessarily require shared reference to theoretical concepts. In addition, the study showed that only sign language is not enough. There must be a connectedness between signing and adapted interaction patterns.