Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Tadoma Method

The Tadoma Method of communication is a unique and tactile way for deafblind individuals to connect and communicate with others. Developed in the 1920s by Sophia Alcorn, Tadoma involves a deafblind person placing their thumb on a speaker's lips and spreading their fingers along the speaker's face and neck. Through this method, communication is transmitted via vibrations, jaw movements, and facial expressions. This allows the user to understand speech by feeling its physical manifestations. Despite being very challenging and time-consuming to learn, Tadoma has proven successful for many, with fluent users able to comprehend up to forty words per minute. Tad Chapman and Oma Simpson, Alcorn's initial students, helped demonstrate the method's potential and made it a prominent communication technique at the Perkins School for the Blind during a period when oral education was highly valued in American Deaf education.

However, the dominance of the Tadoma method began to wane in the 1950s due to its difficulty and the often-inaccurate communication it provided. Today, Tadoma is not used by many worldwide and half of those users reside in the United States. In contrast, American Sign Language (ASL) has become much more widely adopted by the deafblind community. ASL for the deafblind involves the individual resting their hands on the signer's hands, effectively "feeling" the signs being made. While ASL presents its own set of challenges, such as slower comprehension, difficulty distinguishing questions from statements, and confusion between similar-feeling signs, these can be mitigated through techniques like fingerspelling and contextual clarification. Both Tadoma and ASL require significant skill and adaptation, showcasing the resilience and ingenuity of the deafblind community in overcoming communication barriers. The progress of deafblind individuals in mastering these methods continues to inspire and impress people around the globe.

See What I'm Saying: The Extraordinary Powers of our Five Senses 

1 comment:

  1. I wonder why Tadoma is no longer used and if it had to do with hygiene. It's not that I would mind another person being in my personal space and using their hands on my face to depict speech. I would hope that soap and water were used prior to. I definitely agree Jada, resilience and adaptability are shown in these communities!