IV. Backchanneling

In protactile culture of the DeafBlind community, one person may give a manual message, while receiving a different message on another part of their body, often their legs. This is like the look of a seeing and hearing person listening to a verbal message in person, suggesting they're still listening and a certain reception of the message (see protactile.org, Dr. Terra Edwards' work). The use of these nonmanual messages is sometimes known as backchanneling. There are somewhat standardized signals they're humored, curious, understanding, supportive, or negative.

In this situation, movements of the neck muscles or torque of the shoulders and back by either person may suggest there is an external or environmental factor affecting communication. Certain directions of the neck turning may point to a clear standardized response. A distinct movement of the left leg against the buddy's left leg may suggest something is funny. A distinct movement of the right leg against the buddy's right leg may suggest something is confusing or curious. But there are so many ways and degrees of reacting to a message, it's like a painter's palette, and the same message or media changes over the number of times it's received by the same person, and everyone is different. With known practical experience, the prospect of the communication of such reactions being basically standardized, like in PTASL, is unknown. But in this circumstance, they both can feel the speed, degree, and direction one would turn their head. They can feel a sigh. They can feel volatile movements in the chest and neck. They can feel more wavelike movements from these parts. The can feel their shoulders relax, their back relax. They can feel like a waterbed. They may fidget, or change positions. They can feel like a small block of ice or a statue. They can sit up straight with a pressure pulsating throughout their torso. They can still do so much with their elbows. They can feel the back sway. They can feel a palpation of legs. If reactions change, it may be healthy to stop and ask how they feel, ask if they should continue, or where they should go from there. They may make these movements while trying to sustain the rate of writing, as many reactions only need to be subtle. The tactile sense of these reactions may create a more distorted or amplified reception than if the same movements would be made before someone's eyes. If any reactions disrupt a precise progression through this loop of communication, at least one person would detect that, and maybe intervene, but if both people get more and more lenient and flexible with how characters are interpreted if they both feel good, or one of them feels really, really good while the other freezes up and decides to go with it for the least amount of damage, their ideas of where the conversation is going may become a stark contrast.

Some backchanneling signs of the RE may be like what's described in the rest of this part. This generally assumes over a prolonged period, both people are most comfortable with their neck usually not completely at rest going one way or another, but their heads lean against eachother.

For the Performer, there may be a way to express alleged understanding by moving their knees in a manner that's strong enough for the vibrations to resonate through the footrests of the Director. This may be important to express frequently if they're not as comfortable expressing a confusion or curiousity in some or any situations. This does not imply it's not important for the Performer to express confusion or curiousity sometimes, or to at least consider trying at any time. They probably should be careful not to really move the Director's knees though, as this may move the Director's hands if their elbows apply considerable weight to their thighs.

For the Director to often express an alleged understanding, there may be pieces of textile rolled around each finger of the reading hand and fastened near the terminal finger joints with rubberbands or hairbands. As those joints contract, the ends of the rolls could tap the OR's writing hand. The shape of the reading palm would not need to change if the textile has the right properties and is cut at the right length. The rolls may be soft and light enough not to be pulled out of the way by gravity, and thick enough to make contact. One may just make one with a palmless, tipless glove. Again, this may be important to express frequently if they're not as comfortable expressing a confusion or curiousity in some or any situations. This does not imply it's not important for the Director to express confusion or curiousity sometimes, or to at least consider trying at any time.

Confusion or curisousity for either person may be expressed by just one of their ears moving closer to their shoulder and staying there for an extended period.

The effect of head shakes and nods may be a function of the variables of speed, sharpness, and the degree of change in the same or similar way as they do visually, but these may seem exaggerated by a tactile medium.

There may be an annoyed disapproval.
As a Performer, their spine rocks quickly towards the Director as it straightens along their back and pulls towards the Director at the neck. Each ear of the Performer is near equidistant from each of their shoulders.
As a Director, their chin and forehead is pulled towards their shoulder or chest. Their elbows move towards the Performer's hands. The Director's abdominal muscles slightly tighten as their chest is pulled down.

One may be in awe.
As a Performer, their posture may slowly straignten and their muscles around the shoulders may loosen. Any neck movements may be slow.
As a Director, their body may go slowly limp as their jaw or brows slowly move across the Performer so the Director's nose points to the Performer's spine. If the Director's nose was already there, it may move down by the muscles around their spine slowly relaxing.
Compelled and excited responses may be the same as the responses of those in awe, but faster.

Slow body movements in isolation may imply physical discomfort with some level of mental comfort, but as they get faster this may suggest something else.

Each person may be all around comfortable if they completely relax and find some balance for their back and necks.

They may be shocked. Muscles may tighten from where they were and stay that way.

The upper back and chest should probably be leaning into eachother in any case to learn how each person breathes.

There may be a desire to change the course of the conversation.
As a Performer, they may slowly straighten their posture, but their whole back tightens up and their shoulders may slowly pull back as their elbows lightly and slowly push into the Director's arms. Their neck may slowly bend back as it's untwisted, or if it is twisted, it may slowly bend forward.
As a Director, they may slowly curl away from the Performer's back and neck, and their elbows may straighten, even though their butt may not move.
A cringe may be these motions moving much faster. In any case, a change in elbow pressure may be a sign to change.

There may be a dominating discomfort.
As a Performer, their body may slowly tighten and shrink it's physical boundaries.
As a Director, their whole body may slowly tighten and scoot back as their elbows straighten.

One may think, "I hear a doggy running towards us without a leash to get my mind off this."
As a Performer, their neck and shoulders may turn slowly, then these muscles continue a slow motion. The nodding angle of the neck may vary.
As a Director, their neck may twist at a slow speed. The Director's shoulders may also turn slowly.

One may think, "dammit, I hear a dog. my backpack is open and on the grass over there."
As a Performer, their neck and shoulders may turn quickly followed by this muscle tension going static. Their face is oriented somewhat perpendicular to the angle of the ground.
As a Director, their face may lose contact with the Performer's body. The Director's chest may quickly pull towards the Performer then this pressure may remain static. Their elbows may also quickly shift then stay still.

Something may be funny. There may be volatile chest and upper back tension, or just the chest tightening quickly, with the neck moving a bit back and the jaw moving closer to the center of the chest.

If their heads are not comfortable leaning against eachother, there may be a few options:

They may use the ends of headbands, scarfs, turbans, or pigtails, braids, dreads, whatevs, crossed and laced into eachothers' necklaces. There would be weights tied to the ends of these threads below the collarbones. So the Director may have a braid or whatever on their right running to the shoulder of the Performer on their right and directed under their necklace, and the left side could work the same way. The Performer's hair may be routed the same way. There may be rollers or beads or rigid bent tubes on the necklace that would keep it from pulling or pinching threads. There may be shoulder straps sewn into the shirt with some kind of tapered bushings beneath them to route the threads. The necklace may be pulled towards the shoulders if something is sewn into the shirt above the shoulders. Headbands or long pigtails of straight hair may be the way to go as they may be least likely to be caught on as the weighted ends run down the back or chest. If the weights on the ends of the threads may be felt moving across the chest or back on both sides of the spines, the motion of their head may be recognized.

The strands of the Performer's hair, scarfs, turbans, or headbands that run from where the back of a mohawk(monohawk) may be to a place over the Director's shoulders and down their back may more likely brush against their face and neck, where it's very easy for the Director to tactilely detect how the Performer's head moves if direct skin contact is made. Likewise, the strands of the Director's hair, scarfs, turbans, or headbands that run from above their nose at their forehead to a place over the Performer's shoulders and down their chest may more likely brush against their neck or ears, where it's very easy for the Performer to detect tactilely how the Director's head moves if direct skin contact is made.

If both the Director and Performer decide to use their own set of these backchanneling strands, and the reception of each wouldn't be considerably complicated or disrupted, the Director may decide to keep their knot along the back of their head, while the Performer may decide to keep their knot at the front, or vice versa. In this case, one of them may not feel anything against their face or neck, but they may still feel the strands against their shoulders, chest, or back, especially without a conventionally worn shirt.

If they decide to use one of the last two ways of suspending their arms described, another shirt may be folded to about a 5" wide, and rolled around the part of the loop that may be abrading the shoulders. This roll may be tied closed like a rolled sleeping bag or a bundle of wood with two parallel loops, and looped bow square knots for each. It may also be closed by a lace that constricts the roll near the end of it once around, before the lace goes through a bowline on the end of the lace, pulled like the angle of a "Z" then wrapped once around near the other end of the roll, going around the diagonal part, pulled tight in the direction where it came from, then fastened with a round turn and two half hitches. These rolls on the shoulders may prevent abrasion to bare skin and keep the hanging parts for backchanneling from settling in the wrong places, especially if worn on the Director.

There are also some backhanneling ideas that may complicate or confuse reception from the palm, but they may be worth considering:
There may be a spectrum of understanding from the RE thinking, "suresuresure", with a reading palm that's loose and relaxed, to "I've had a thicker slurry from a concrete mixer" with a reading palm pulled tight at all joints.
Presuming the writing is done with a middle finger, the thumb of the reading hand may rub or stroke the index finger of the writing hand, as the terminal thumb joint stays straight, moving like a windshield wiper.
If the palm behind the knuckles won't really bend with them, the fingers of the reading hand may also imply certain receptions. One may move with positive feelings, one with humored feelings, one with curious feelings, and one with negative feelings. A certain combination of these fingers may touch at the same time, and the nature of how these touches are made may vary by the nature of the feeling.

Considering the ways of breathing, contact from the chest to the upper back may still be very important regardless of head or neck contact.

I. Intro, basics, and definitions
II. Learning and refining
III. Physical ergonomics
V. Effects
VI. Content of discussion