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.

Coactive signing:

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 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 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 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 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.