Suggestions based on the work of David Katz for a 'touch-based pedagogy'
Suggestions based on the
work of David Katz for a
Kirsten Costain, National unit for combined visual and hearing loss and
deafblindness, Statped, Oslo, Norway
Deafblind International World Conference, August 2019
“The world of touch”, Katz (1925/2016)
David Katz: Psychologist and central figure in study of the
psychology of perception:
The perceiver creates the sensory experience actively
Microstructure (surface fine structure) over macrostructure
(form or shape)
Pressure and vibration
Bipolarity of touch: the subjective objective poles
The intelligent hand:
a unitary sense organ
The hand, like the eye, is a unified sense organ:
It is the hand and not the minute nerve receptors that is the
organ of touch
The content of tactile experience is generated actively by
the perceiver, most prominently through the hand
The hand as the organ of touch must be “educated”, just like
the other sense organs (***we would include the skin as the
sense organ in this context of cdb and sensory “education”).
The “bipolarity”of touch: objective and
subjective poles of touch experience
Hyper-sensitivity of the touch organ in cdb
and the subjective pole
Hyper-sensitivity in touch experience and touch
aversion in many individuals with cdb
- Difficulty exploring the world and difficulty
with tactile language development (both
impressive and expressive language).
- Dependence in perceptual terms of “object
permanence” on moving and sustained touch
Pedagogical tactics: overcoming “overwhelming”
subjectivity in touch experience and strengthening
the objective pole:
1. Use of music and sound vibration to motivate
touching and exploration of the objective
Music produces vibrations felt more globally and may thus be
easier for the touch-averse person with cdb to tolerate.
Being touched by sound on and in the body can be more
subtle than being touched by another’s hand – it can embrace
the whole nervous system in a way that “holds” the person
without restraining or putting direct pressure on the body
2. Using intense physical activities that
force a focus on the objective pole:
Example: climbing a climbing wall or a
3. Talking about sensations felt in tactile
Using language and communication to
distinguish between the subjective and objective
poles of touch experience.
Distinguishing between what is happening
IN me and what is happening OUTSIDE of me.
4. Muting the touch experience to reduce
the dominance of the subjective pole by
- scaffolding (by the partner)
- or by using a covering object (piece of cloth with an
acceptable texture wrapped around an object, for
5. Using vibration as a distal sense to reveal
the physical properties of the world
For example, the notion of height
Discussion (2 and 2)
What do you think about the notion of a dual,
simultaneous experience of the
subjective objective poles in touch?
What do you think about the notion of an
“overwhelming subjectivity” of touch experience for
some persons with cdb?
Feedback from from the discussions 2 and 2.
Are these concepts understandable? Can you see
ways in which they might inform your practice?
What do you think of the pedagogical strategies in
light of the notion of “overwhelming subjectivity” in
touch and cdb?