Riitta Lahtinen, PhD
Head of communication unit
The Finnish Deafblind Association
A five-year Communication Project was set up in 2001 by the Finnish Deafblind Association to identify and analyse different communication systems used by acquired deafblind people, to develop different kind of communication methods, techniques and teaching methods and to expand the Interpreting education programmes of acquired deafblind people. Now Communication Unit is one part of the Finnish Deafblind Association resource and expert services to share knowledge on the field of different communication methods and environmental description.
To observe and collate information on the different communication methods and systems used by Deafblind people, children and adults, and to analyse how these methods can provide a higher level of standard in terms of accessibility and improving quality of life between individuals and families. Analysing how the communication systems can be improved using guiding techniques using different kinds of body movements to explain and give environmental information, and how these can be adapted to the body using touch.
Analyse existing teaching programmes used in the home or in group work and how these can be improved within the interpreting education framework. Planning and developing different teaching programmes/modules as part of the educational packages.
Identify the most suitable methods of how Deafblind people can learn and use interpreter and personal assistant services, planning educational programmes and exams and teaching materials, introduce a training programme for a group of Deafblind people who wish to become qualified as educators for other Deafblind people, adopting practical working methods.
Encourage the inter-exchange and co-operation between other organisations, which has been produced and developed from the project, and to develop teaching and training educational modules with the schools in Finland.
Active collaboration with different universities and research groups; Aalto University (doctor theses “Tactility and tacit knowledge in the making”), Turku University (CI-music perception with deafblind adult and Musical Haptices), Helsinki University (CI-speech production with deafblind adults), Helsinki University (multiperceptional learning).
The Finnish National Board of Education has accepted “Instructor of Haptics skills” course as a part of the Special Vocational Qualification of the instructor of Visual Impairment skills at Keskuspuisto Vocational College. Other special instructor areas are low vision, mobility, IT and Braille. First course started 2008.
Social-Haptic Network started 2012, part of the DbI (Deafblind International) network. First Network meeting was in Helsinki 2010 and second network meeting was during 1st International Accessibility and Multimodality in Communication –symposium in Turku University 2013.
- Social-Haptic Communication by Riitta Lahtinen and Russ Palmer
- Musical Haptices by Russ Palmer, Stina Ojala & Riitta Lahtinen.