Number 54 • January 2015

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Social-Haptic Communication Network

Riitta Lahtinen and Russ Palmer report:

The Social-Haptic Network has been collaborating with different universities in Finland. The Intensive Special Education (ISE) is a new research group at the Department of Teacher Education in the University of Helsinki1, which started on May 2014. The leader of the research group is Elina Kontu (docent2) from the University of Helsinki. The senior researcher is Riitta Lahtinen (PhD), head of the Communication Unit from the Finnish Deafblind Association3, while Russ Palmer, (SRAT) acts as consultant. The research group consists also of project manager Terhi Ojala (MA) and researcher Irene Rämä (MA), both from the University of Helsinki.
The main research areas related to social-haptic communication during 2014-2015 included:

1. The use of haptices in teaching settings with learners with diverse (special needs) and collection of case studies;

2. Preparing a Scientific Article outlining the use of haptices for describing the environment, objects and multimodal perception , and

3. Outlining the pedagogic approach to social-haptic communication – which is the basis of teaching methodology for teachers using social-haptic communication.

Recent publications included: ‘Practice Oriented Safety Procedures in Work Environment with Visually and Hearing Impaired Colleagues’ by Lahtinen, R., Palmer, R. & Ojala, S. and a lecture given at the Safe and Secure Cities conference in Turku, Finland published in the Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Well-Being in the Information Society (WIS2014, p.109-120).

The second stage of the Social-Haptic Communication Studies continued with the Royal Association for the Deaf (RAD)4 in the UK in June. There were 30 delegates representing professionals, interpreters, deafblind people and family members. During the day we discussed and shared experiences on how social-haptic communication can be applied in everyday life.

A new group of professionals (including those who are sign language communicators working with deafblind people) started studies in a 6 day credit course called ‘Social-Haptics for Different Client Groups Including the Elderly and Autistic People’.
For further information about the Social-Haptic Communication Network, contact: or;

3 is a small corporate member of DbI

Communication Network

Ton Visser reports:

It’s been some time since we informed about the activities of our network. This doesn’t mean nothing has happened; on the contrary! We are happy to inform about our recent activities and plans for the future.

Masters of Communications Course

In our last report we informed the membership that organizing and participating in the high standard Master on Communication (Congenital deafblindness) course at University of Groningen (Netherlands) continues to be one of the main Network priorities. In the last couple of years we dedicated almost all of our energy and time towards further development of this Masters Course. We discuss and develop theoretical frameworks and concepts year by year.

The next Masters Course, the 10th, will start in September 2015. We are very happy that so many people have graduated from this course. With all the research done by the Masters students, we move more towards what we call “Evidence Based Practice” for people with congenital deafblindness, especially through using ‘single case experimental designs’.

At this moment we wish to celebrate the successful defense this past October by Marga Martens of her PhD thesis titled “The Intervention Model for Affective Involvement and its Effectiveness”1. Marga was one of the first students who graduated from the Masters program. Marleen Janssen, Groningen University Masters Program Director, and a member of the Network, expects that 5 additional students will defend their Masters in 2015. Nearly all of them are former Masters program students.

Open access journal

The Open access journal project was much more complicated than we expected. To meet the criteria to realize the standards for such magazine required a lot more work and cooperation with different people than we realized. For the editorial review of the articles we have to follow very strict rules. Nevertheless, the articles for our first edition have been reviewed are ready to go. Therefore, in cooperation with the University of Groningen, our first edition will be available in the Spring of 2015.

In our next report we will give more details about the articles which can be published in this journal. We are now planning for the second edition to be published for Winter/Spring 2016. As we are now more familiar with the proper procedures, we expect to publish future editions much faster.

Proposed Conference – Access to language

A year ago we indicated that we would not be involved again in organizing conferences. At our last Network meeting we decided to review that decision for several reasons. First, we realized that most of the Masters students profited from the work done by our Network. Secondly, we are coming up to a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Masters Program. Thirdly, and maybe the most important one, is the fact that there has been a lot of theoretical developments in our field since our last conference in 2010. Our initial thoughts are to plan for a conference in March 2017. The title we are considering is: Access to language. In this conference we want to discuss the concepts used over the past years and present new concepts for discussion. The format used in our earlier conferences will be the same: plenary sessions followed by workshops to support the transfer from theory to practice.
Ton Visser (, on behalf of the DbI Communication Network
1 An article pertaining to this PhD research, authored by Marga Martens and Marleen Janssen, appeared in DbI Review Edition 53 (July 2014).
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