Friday, August 21, 2009
How Words Feel
Back in early 2007, I wrote about using a technique called Tadoma as one more weapon in Ashley’s communication arsenal. Though almost never taught today, Tadoma was taught widely to deafblind children from the 1930’s to the 1960’s.
As I wrote in my previous entry, Tadoma, as described by Wikipedia, is a method of communication used by people who are deafblind, in which the person places his thumb on the speaker's lips and his fingers along the jawline. The middle three fingers often fall along the speaker's cheeks with the pinky finger picking up the vibrations of the speaker's throat. It is sometimes referred to as 'tactile lipreading', as the person who is deafblind feels the movement of the lips, as well as vibrations of the vocal cords,
The theory is that the person who is deafblind will be able to feel the vibrations, the positions of the lips, the air expelled, and other such physical cues, and from that might be able to learn to speak. The Tadoma method was invented by American teacher Sophie Alcorn and developed at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts. It is named after the first two children to whom it was taught: Winthrop "Tad" Chapman and Oma Simpson.
When I first began my search for more information on the technique, I found little. So, imagine my surprise when I found an article in Psychology Today, dated earlier this month, that spoke of Tadoma.
The article chronicles the path Rick Joy has followed for over 50 years in his mastery of Tadoma. Also, according to the article, Tadoma is rarely taught these days because of new technologies and medical advances for children who are deaf. But the article, and what I experience when Ashley uses Tadoma, describes something more than just a communication system. It takes human interaction to a different and more beautiful level in my opinion.
Ashley has made it very clear that the technologies of today are not her first choice for communication. Sign language and Tadoma are her choices, and I support those choices completely. Both those tools are beautiful expressions of the human spirit as well as a means of communication.