Project SALUTE
Successful Adaptations for Learning to Use Touch Effectively

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This page contains the article SELECTED DEFINITIONS.

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Adapted sign:
Modification of a standard manual sign to fit the child’s visual, cognitive, and motor abilities or to accommodate for the child’s visual impairment or learning needs.

Co-active movement:

Based on the work of Jan van Dijk, co-active movement is defined as moving together with the child. The adult or peer performs movements (may include objects) concurrently with the child.

Physical guidance of child’s hand(s) to facilitate production of a standard manual sign for expressive communication.

Hand-over-hand approach/guidance:

Physically moving a child’s hand(s) through an action or activity.

Hand-under-hand approach/guidance:
Placing a hand(s) under a child’s hand(s) to encourage interaction and access to information.

Haptic perception:
Active exploration of an object’s size, shape, or texture that results in its identification.

Interactive signing:
Use of signs involving a sender and receiver in conversational interaction in contrast to coactive signing.

Mutual tactile attention:
Involves joint attention and sharing an activity or object through non-controlling mutual touch.

Object cue:
An object or part of an object used to refer to a person, place, object, or activity. This object may be used in the actual situation.

Object of reference:
An object or part of an object used to refer to a person, place, object, or activity. This object is not used in the actual situation.

Object schedule :
A concrete representation of daily activities using objects or parts of objects.

Sign on body:
A standard manual sign that a signer produces directly onto the receiver’s body, (e.g., face, chest, shoulder, hand).

The sense of touch as perceived by the skin (includes receptors that perceive pain, temperature, movement, pressure, and vibration).

Related to the sense of touch or act of touching. "Tactile" is synonymous with "tactual".

Tactile discrimination:
The ability to perceive similarities and differences of various stimuli to the skin, either when touching objects or when being touched by someone or something.

Tactile learning:
The use of tactile information for interaction and to development of conceptual skills.

Tactile hyperresponsivity:
An increased or heightened sensitivity to tactile stimulation. Characterized by observable negative behavioral responses to certain types of tactile stimuli that most people would not find aversive. Also known as tactile defensiveness.

Tactile hyporesponsivity:
Decreased awareness or sensitivity to tactile stimulation that results in a lack of response or muted response.

Tactile imitation:
The observer (child) who is blind feels another’s actions by touching parts of the person’s body and object involved in the action, then performs the action.

Tactile modeling:
Demonstration of an activity by having the child (observer) feel the demonstrator’s actions by touching parts of the body and objects involved in the action.

Tactile saliency:
Distinctive physical or tactile characteristics of an item that make it easy to discriminate through the sense of touch.

Tactile signing:
Communication method based on a standard manual sign system in which the receiver’s hand(s) is placed lightly upon the hand(s) of the signer to perceive the signs tactilely.

Vibrotactile communication method in which the receiver who is deaf-blind places a hand(s) on the speaker’s face to perceive what is being said.

Tangible symbols:
A communication system that includes three-dimensional symbols (objects) and two-dimensional symbols (photographs and drawings) for children who do not understand the meaning of abstract symbols. Rowland and Schweigert (2000) include photos and drawings because they are permanent, can be touched and manipulated, and have a perceptual link to their referents.

Textured symbols:
Tactilely salient, three-dimensional and artificial representations associated with people, objects, and activities and used for receptive and expressive communication. These symbols can be abstract or closely related to their referent.

Touch cue:
A touch made in a consistent manner directly on the body to communicate with a child. It may be a prompt to encourage the child’s action, e.g., to choose a toy; or to help the child anticipate an activity, e.g., touching the child’s foot before putting on his shoe. A touch cue may also be a comment, e.g, a pat on the back for praise "I like that" or a touch on the arm as a greeting "I’m here."


This list of Definitions represents a synthesis of information from Project SALUTE’s focus groups, National Advisory Committee, staff activities, and a review of relevant literature such as the following bibliography.


          Accardo, P.J., & Whitman, B.Y. (2002). Dictionary of developmental disabilities terminology. (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
          Barraga, N., & Erin, J. (2001). Visual handicaps and learning (4th ed.). Austin, TX: ProEd.
          Bloom, Y. (1990). Object symbols: A communication option (Monograph Series No. 1). North Rock, Australia: The New South Wales Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.
          Chen, D. (1999). Beginning communication with infants. In D. Chen (Ed.), Essential elements in early intervention: Visual impairments and multiple disabilities (pp.337-377). New York: AFB Press.
          Chen, D. (1995). The beginnings of communication: Early childhood. In K.M. Huebner, J.G. Prickett, T.R. Welch, & E. Joffe (Eds.). Hand in hand: Essentials of communication and orientation and mobility for your students who are deaf-blind. (pp.185-218). New York: AFB Press.
          Coleman, J.G. (1993). The early intervention dictionary. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine
          Costello, M. (1996). Developing early communication. HKNC.TAC News, 8(2), 3-5.
          DeGangi, G. (1994). Documenting sensorimotor progress: A pediatric therapist’s guide. Tucson, AZ: Therapy Skill Builders.
          Durkel, J.C. (1999). Non-verbal communication: Cues, signals and symbols. [on-line]
          Harlin, D. (1996). Tactile sign. TAC News, 8, 8-11.
          Joint, S.A., Borellini, B., & Mathiesen, G. (1998). The survival guide: Tactile signs for deaf-blind and dual sensory impaired people who do not have language. Queensland, Australia: Deafblind Association of Queensland.
          McDonough, J.T., Jr. (Ed.) (1994). Stedman’s concise medical dictionary. (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Williams and Wilkins.
          McFarland, S. (1995). Teaching strategies of the van Dijk curricular approach. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 89, 222-228.
          McLinden, M., & McCall, S. (2002). Learning through touch: Supporting children with visual impairment and additional difficulties. London, England: David Fulton Publishers.
          McInnes, J.M. & Treffry, J.A. (1982). Deaf blind infants and children: A developmental guide. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
          Miles, B. (May,1999). Talking the language of the hands to the hands. Monmouth, OR: Deaf-Blind Link, The National Information Clearinghouse on Children who are Deaf-Blind.
          Murray-Branch, J., & Bailey, B.R. (1998). Texture communication symbols: Talking through touch [Video & booklet]. Terre Haute, IN: Blumberg Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Special Education, Indiana State University.
          Pease, L. (2000). Creating a communicating environment. In S.Aitken, M. Buultjens, C. Clark, J.T. Eyre, L. Pease (Eds.) Teaching children who are deafblind (pp. 35-82) London: David Fulton Publishers.
          Pick, H. (1980). Tactual and haptic perception. In R.L Welsh & B.B. Blasch (Eds.), Foundation of orientation and mobility, (pp. 89-114) New York: American Foundation for the Blind.
          Reed, C.M., Delhorne, L.A., Durlach, N.I., & Fischer S.D. (1995). A study of the tactual reception of sign language. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 38, 477-489.
          Rosen, S. (1997). Kinesiology and sensoriomotor function. In B.B. Blasch, W.R. Wiener, & R.L. Welsh (Eds.), Foundations of orientation and mobility. (2nd ed., pp. 170-199). New York: AFB Press.
          Rowland, C. & Schweigert, P. (2000). Tangible symbols, tangible outcomes. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 16, 61-78.
          Rowland, C., Schweigert, P.D., & Prickett, J.G. (1995). Communication systems, devices, and modes. In K.M. Huebner, J.G. Prickett, T.R. Welch, & E. Joffe, (Eds.). Hand in hand: Essentials of communication and orientation and mobility for your students who are deaf-blind (pp. 219-259). New York: AFB Press.
          Rowland, C., & Stremel-Campbell, K. (1987). Share and share alike. In L. Goetz,
D. Guess, K. Stremel-Campbell, (Eds.). Innovative program design for individuals with sensory impairments (pp.49-73). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
          Watkins, S. (1989). A model of home intervention for infant, toddler and preschool aged multihandicapped sensory impaired children. The INSITE model. Logan, UT: HOPE.
          Van Dijk, J. (1966). The first steps of the deaf-blind child towards language. International Journal of the Education of the Blind,15(4), 112-114.

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SALUTE is a model demonstration project funded by the U.S. Department of Education grant #H324T990025 to California State University, Northridge from September 1, 1999 to August 30, 2004.