Mahidian Tactile Sign Language

1st of Sun's Swell, AE 721  
Developed at the Sidrahal School for the Deafblind, Mahidian Tactile Sign Language (MTSL) is a tactile language based on Mahidian Sign Language (MSL), but modified for those who experience both aural and visual impairment. MTSL is known for being somewhat different from other tactile languages in that it simultaneously utilizes one talking hand and one listening hand. This was developed because in southern Mahid, cooperative overlapping is expected as a natural part of local speech patterns, and for those who had become both deaf and blind later in life, not being able to jump in as easily left them feeling shut out of fully participating in conversations.   MTSL is used by two individuals facing one another, typically with their right hand being the talking hand and their left hand listening. The talking hand will have its palm facing down, and the listening will face up, so both hands will be palm-to-palm with the person they are conversing with. Words will be tapped and traced out with the talking hand on the conversation partner's listening hand, while the they can similarly be conversing the same way with their other hand. Much like with MSL, most communication is done words which have their own dedicated signs, but there is also fingerspelling alphabet for names or things which one doesn't know the sign for.

Writing System

MTSL Logographic Sign for Friend by illumiinae with Midjourney
Visual logographic representations of the language were occasionally been used to help teach the language to seeing individuals, most often family members of those attending the Sidrahal School for the Deafblind (SSDB), as well as for creating a dictionary for MTSL. As a teaching supplement, some proponents have said it is helpful, but the general consensus at SSDB is that it should not be relied on too heavily, and teaching should instead focus more on actually practicing using and feeling the signs.
MTSL Logographic Sign for Waterfall by illumiinae with Midjourney

Geographical Distribution

The densest concentration of speakers of MTSL are locaed in Sidrahal, a coastal city which is the capital of the Principality of Mahid, as it is home to the SSDB, which provides a full K-12 education. SSDB provides room and board, allowing students to travel from all over Mahid, with some students coming from as far as southern Hazar and Allathone, however it's not uncommon for younger students to have family members to move to Sidrahal with them during the school year.

Cover image: Goldream-1 by JR Korpa


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Aug 5, 2023 11:02

It's a nice take on tactile sign languages! When I used sign language with deaf-blind people a while ago, we used regular Catalan Sign Language but the deaf-blind person would kind of hold our hands as we signed (we call it "supported sign language" in Catalan, not sure if it has a specific name in English). The method described in this article was still used for fingerspelling (either tracing the Latin letter on the palm or using CSL's alphabet). Just throwing it here in case it serves as inspiration, I don't know what your experience with tactile sign is.   In any case, I love that you chose a tactile SL rather than a regular visual SL! It's a fascinating type of language, and I think you have a great article here, given that you just had one week to develop it. The illustrations are great too!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Aug 8, 2023 02:04 by Lumin

Thank you! I believe the English term for it is "hand-over-hand" signing. I don't have any personal experience using tactile signs (only limited experience with ASL), but I did try to do a little research to see if something like this already existed since I didn't want to just be like a hearing person thinking I've got an interesting idea when I've actually just reinvented the wheel haha