Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award


Faculty Advisor

Elisa Maroney


Human communication is an immensely complex system that varies widely across geographic regions, age groups, and cultural identities. Tactile signed language systems, which have been widely adopted by many members of the DeafBlind community, have been a relatively new introduction to the linguistic study of signed languages. This research examines the current literature on the unique features of ProTactile American Sign Language (PTASL) in terms of its linguistic structure, turn-taking elements, and methods of back channeling in contrast with the same features of Visual American Sign Language (VASL). These linguistic differences have historically led to the description of PTASL as a dialect of VASL (Collins, 2004). However, since the inception of ProTactile in the early 2000s, progressively more unique structures have been adopted in tactile discourse, which have led to the consideration of PTASL as a language distinct from VASL (Edwards, 2014a). In accordance with these claims, I have examined research conducted on casual use of PTASL among native users in a search for connecting patterns and commonalities. In this paper, I explore the unique characteristics of PTASL in relation to progressive language change with a direct focus on the implications thereof for interpreters working within the DeafBlind community.