Thursday, September 25, 2008

Low Vision Sign Tracking Explained

Low Vision Sign Tracking Explained
By Beth Koenig
Director Deaf-Blind Services
Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center

Sign tracking, which is an off shoot of tactile signing, has the receiver gently holding the signer's wrists to follow general arm and hand movement. In this way, the receiver is able to get the location, position, and movements of a particular sign. This then allows the eyes to focus on the handshape formed for a sign, and switch back and forth between handshapes and facial expressions when "listening". It also allows the person to receive signs in a more relaxed manner as they always know where the signer's wrist and hands are located thus eliminating the need to exert one's visual energy in tracking or searching out such information.

This technique also allows the receiver to send subtle cues when signing goes out of their visual field. Cues can also be transmitted to the signer such as slow down, repeat, agreement ("yes", "yeah"), pause or hold, or move to better lighting (visual field).

It should be noted that in the deaf-blind world, such use of technique means "yes, I am paying attention and focused on what you are saying". Letting go of one wrist but holding the other tighter can signal "hold, I need to do something", losing grip and moving one hand under the signers hand signals that the receiver would like to say something.

All of this seems to be learned and applied naturally by the two people conversing over the course of the conversation. Simple physics and practical studies can further the understanding of this technique.