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How does Social Haptic Communication (SHK) work?

Definition and development

The term haptics comes from the Greek and means "tactile".
In the Duden dictionary, the term haptic is defined as "the sense of touch, concerning touching, based on the sense of touch, using the sense of touch [taking place]". This usage comes from the fields of medicine and psychology.

The beginnings of social-haptic communication lie in the research and development work of Dr. Riitta Lahtinen and Russ Palmer, who have been working on this form of communication for more than 25 years. In the Scandinavian countries, deafblindness was recognized early on as an independent disability, which paved the way for the international expansion of this research field. Socio-Haptic Communication is used in combination with other forms of communication, whereby learning and applying them requires a lot of patience and time. It should be noted that social haptic communication has not yet been an independent language system. Therefore, it does not replace other forms of communication such as sound or sign language.

Execution locations

According to international guidelines, social-haptic signs are carried out in neutral zones on the body of the deafblind person: These include the back, arm, wrist, outer/inner palm and upper knee area. All other areas of the body are not considered neutral and are not permitted. However, it is important that the interlocutors* agree on the places of execution in advance and continue to orient themselves to these in the sense of a good conversation culture during the course of the conversation.
Advantages of socio-haptic communication

Advantages of socio-haptic communication

  • The possibility of discrete information transfer.
        Deafblind persons can ...
            ...passively receive information.
            ... receive the description of an unfamiliar environment/room on your back.
            ... resting hands and arms while continuing to receive information.
        Socio-haptic communication can be performed or received while sitting or standing.

Further information:

Fachdienst ITM


Definition and development

Area of Use

Advantages of social-haptic communication