Tactus is a project from the Design School  Kolding DESIS Lab, in Kolding, Denmark. The project works as a dialogue tool using tactile elements to empower children with cognitive challenges to express thoughts and feelings.

Marielund School is a newly established special school welcoming 95 new pupils in August 2017. All the pupils have socio-emotionally challenges and therefore, the school needs a particular accommodating learning environment. It is of pivotal importance that the pupils learn to express feelings and needs in order to cope in the real world later in life.

“Talking based on something that reminded him of something made the whole thing easier and more tempting for him. And also more non-threatening, I believe.” One student said, “I have time to think about what I feel – and it’s fun with all the various things.”

The school should become superfluous

Laila Grøn Truelsen, who is the Head of the LAB for Social Inclusion and is both a designer and a teacher, says that the task the designers got was to ” devise something” that can make the special programmes that Marielund School offers superfluous so that children can move on in a regular school setting.

Tested tools for working to support students so that they will be heard and can verbalise feelings, events and possibly reflections already exist, but the innovative element in TACTUS is that its starting point is visual, tactile, sensual and more abstract.

– Tests have clearly shown that for some students the tactile approach makes a big difference in how students can be convinced to open up and talk about their feelings and thoughts. With TACTUS it’s possible to start a process in which you can tangibly and tactilely feel the material. It can pave the way for checking within oneself, taking a more intellectual approach and reflecting orally in a process that alternates between something visual, sensual, tactile and something you do with your hands and something that involves reflection and learning, says Laila Grøn Truelsen.


The tool can be used by a pedagogue and a child in one-on-one conversations or in group conversations, where it is used by several children together with a pedagogue.

                                                                                              Collaborators: Marielund School and the VELUX FOUNDATION

An overview of the material incuded in TACTUS

A visual tool that, in a learning and conversation environment, encourages children and adolescents to talk about their thoughts and feelings.

Guide cards – An additional tool for TACTUS, developed in collaboration with psychologist Lene Kiel Jespersen. The cards can be used as an independent tool for mapping the child’s level of development or as preparation for conversations.

Guide booklets – A set of two booklets – an introductory booklet and a booklet containing four case studies as well as a TACTUS manual.



  • PROJECT TYPE : Development project – Lab for Social Inclusion
  • PROJECT PERIOD : January 2017 – December 2017
  • PROJECT MANAGEMENT : Laila Grøn Truelsen
  • PARTICIPANTS FROM DESIGN SCHOOL KOLDING: Laila Grøn Truelsen, Jacqueline De Abrew, Maja Lindstrøm Hansen

Visit the Design School Kolding website