This is an excerpt from “ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE” by Anthony Doerr 
“Her hands move ceaselessly, gathering, probing, and testing. The breast feathers of a stuffed and mounted chickadee are impossibly soft, its beak as sharp as a needle. The pollen at the tips of tulip anthers is not so much powder as it is tiny balls of oil. To really touch something, she is learning—the bark of a sycamore tree in the gardens; a pinned stag
Beetle in the Department of Etymology; the exquisitely polished interior of a scallop shell
in Dr. Geffard’s workshop—is to love it.”
Read how Vijay expresses himself with touch and you shall realize how vital this sense is for human survival:
It was only yesterday when he had felt a dragon fruit which had reminded him of an octopus, not surprising at all that he had decided to count the short tentacles. He thought to himself, “If all octopuses have eight tentacles, why doesn’t a Dragon fruit have same number in all of them? Why are nature’s creations somewhere so uniformly different and sometimes so differently uniform! His curiosity was piqued. It was a neighbor, whom he went ahead and requested for helping him, resolve his quandary. He knew that she had studied botany and had keen interest in the creations of nature. She took him to her kitchen garden and made him feel a variety of thorns to make him understand how different each of them felt. From the softer bristles of a pine to the spikes of a bougainvillea, he was feeling them all with a subtle touch without getting hurt. “But why was he being made to feel thorns?” he suddenly thought about the hedgehogs and the porcupines he had heard and read about. He had always wondered how people in the west could keep them as pets with their prickly outer cover. “Only if he had a back like that of a hedgehog, how would people look at him?” he had that imaginative gleam on his face.
Now, let me blindfold you and make you live 7 days of your life without using your sense of sight maneuvering through with smell and touch. I will make sure that you are not left devoid of any of the activities you do on a daily basis and also try and make it interesting for you. Hope you will be able to locate your toothbrush, differentiate between hot and cold water taps, walk up to the sink during the morning and would not bother to switch on the light too! You shall discern between the various smells which are detected by your nose and know when palak paneer is cooked and when water is boiled. I will take you out for a movie of your choice and set you free into a nearby city forest and then leave you inside. Do you think, you will be able to exit by remembering the fragrant lilies and reach back home without removing the blindfold? Hope you will know when coffee and popcorns are about to reach your seat inside the cinema hall. If you think it’s not doable, you are wrong. It is all possible but by using the sense of touch and smell and that is what a visually impaired uses all his life to navigate his way through different tasks he has to perform like any of us.
Have you felt the walls of your house in pitch dark with your fingers and the carpet of your house with bare feet? Have you felt and closely smelt the petals of roses, bougainvillea, jasmine & palash & segregated these flowers in a nearby garden without seeing. The feeling and fragrances in darkness are the same against what it is in light but when someone who is used to seeing is blindfolded; his overall experience is shaky and nervous. How many of us have actually tried this experiment and thought how life is lived with touch and smell without vision?
The sighted have actually undermined the power of these two senses because they have grown up using the eyes and have become completely dependent on seeing. For them seeing is believing and not smelling or touching.
“And I found that of all the senses, the eye was the most superficial, the ear the most haughty, smell the most voluptuous, taste the most superstitious and inconstant, touch the most profound and philosophical”, Diderot wrote in his work titled: “Letter on the blind for the use of those who see”. 
In Aristotle’s famous hierarchy of the five senses in De Anima of c.350 BC, sight is the superior sense while touch is consigned to the lowest position which was questioned by Diderot in 1749. He regarded touch as most reflective and philosophical of the senses.  As Klatzy in his 1987 research work said, “There is more to touch than meets the eye.” 
The dictionary of Russian Language defines the sense of touch as follows, “In reality all five senses can be reduced to one-the sense of touch. The tongue and palate sense the food; the ear, sound waves; the nose, emanations; the eyes, rays of light.”  This clearly brings out the primacy of touch which is also brought out in Michelangelo’s Fresco painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling: Erect Bipedality with Able Hands. Michelangelo has captured that moment when God by the touch of his finger shall grant Adam with a soul, the moment when spirit and matter shall get together in unison. In this scene the act of creation is performed by contact when god touches the hand of man with the tip of his fingers. 
Early life experiences in our lives are innately linked to touch. Research has shown that baby rats with high-licking moms have lower levels of stress hormones. Concurrent stimulation is indispensable for the complete social and biological growth of the living being. Newborns must be licked if they are to survive (otherwise they are at risk of dying of a functional failure of the gastrointestinal system). In humans, this licking is replaced by a extensive period of labor, during which the contractions of the uterus kindles the babies skin. Babies who are not adequately touched after birth often suffer tremendously, sometimes even dying as a result. This suggests that healthy children are directly proportional to touching mothers.  Why I am sharing this insightful research is because our senses of touch and smell have been going through partial extinction.
Such is the power of touch and smell that we cannot stop feeling these languages of the body while we interact with self and with other elements of nature. Through the motion of touch, a moment is uncovered and infinite such moments are captured in our subconscious mind.
Touch has been an eternal part of the language of love and hatred. The feeling of touch is infinite and the sensations it generates are unfathomable, more so by those who can physically see. It has been proven through sensory compensation hypothesis, and there is evidence that practice can aid touch which can become the eyes for those who cannot see along with their ears. For visually impaired, sound and touch are their eyes. For those who are both deaf and blind, their only way to see the world is through touch. It has been scientifically proven that whenever one of your senses is taken away or not present at the time of birth itself, your other senses get stronger and compensate for the loss.
The book “Politics of Touch” by Erin Manning  looks at touch not just as one of the senses but its interplay between living beings, living beings and non-living beings, humans and varied elements of nature and takes us through the experiential journey of touch beginning with Tango. For many of us it is just a dance form which begins with music, a tempo, a descant. The movement of this dance is initiated by the one who takes the lead, gives an opening to which the partner responds. Tango is an interchange that is all about closeness of two human bodies raring to engage with one another in a seamless flow of bodily energies driving each other synchronously. It is a contract for few minutes, a sensual encounter that guarantees nothing but a listening. Amidst this hearing and responding, the language of touch plays a pivotal role with the background music adding to the sensation. Tango has encouraged communication amongst cultures and communities across the world because it mostly begins between two strangers. This touch at best is improvised in that moment. Most of the times, there is not even any improvisation. Like that visually impaired who is banging his stick on the pedestrian way staring towards the traffic waiting for someone to respond with his voice or with a gentle touch to say, “yes I can help you cross the road.” Immediately, in a fraction of a second, an informal agreement gets executed and the person makes him cross the road. In this whole transaction, there is exchange of sensations, formation of trust and execution. The visually impaired does not have a choice because he cannot do anything but trust someone to help him go on the other side of the road. He doesn’t even have the option of forming a perception about who the person is because he does not have an alternative in that situation. He has no choice but to read that touch as a pat of help filled with positivity.
To touch entails accepting the risks associated with the unidentified towards whom I reach when I touch. That is where tact is different from touch like in pre-inscribed tactile paths at metro stations and on pedestrian ways. When you do it tact-fully, you zero the risk which is 100% in case of touch.  In case of visually impaired and deaf-blind persons, the ability to walk or do things tactfully is taken away due to the absence of sight and more so in the case of deaf-blind who cannot even hear. Only when I see a crowd is when I will want to check why it is gathered. In case they are fighting, as a visually impaired, I will not go there because I know something is wrong and I heard it. Someone who is deaf-blind cannot even hear which makes it impossible for him to know till he touches something with all the risk involved or smells a familiar thing or gets support of technology to visualize a situation in his mind.
With ever-changing times it’s not surprising that Cecilia Bembibre , a researcher at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, is preserving certain scents. With the globalization of odors, every street has the same wafts of Mc Donald hamburgers and costa coffee. In earlier times every street had a unique set of fragrances on the air. As Alex Rhys-Taylor of Goldsmiths University, who specializes in the multisensory experience of urban space says“ through my research I can say, that you can learn a lot about a city’s economy, a lot about its culture, through the sense of smell.” One wonders how will someone who is not exposed to varied fragrances and odors function if he is not exposed to them and they keep getting extinct? While preservation is for protecting history, people who are dependent on the sense of smell surely have tough times ahead.
The only ray of hope for now seems to be the fact that many hidden senses are being harnessed by researchers. Differently abled across the globe are learning what is called echolocation . Humans are using what Bats and Dolphins use for maneuvering their way through air and water respectively. Just by using mouth clacks, those who learn echo-locating can tell whether an object few meters away is a street light, automobile or tree. Even those quite new to the skill can detect a wall more than 30 meters away.
That is where, in post COVID times, one wonders how would two strangers trust each other to hold respective bodies with confidence and flow without any fear, in a Tango? How would a visually impaired trust a stranger to help him board a bus? How would they go to a museum and touch artefacts to experience what it looks like if it has been touch by an infect person? Whether they are congenitally, adventitiously or late blind, they all have no option but to use touch as a sense to steer through their daily lives. Even in today’s times, they already carry a tag of “sympathy” and most live a life of rejection.
The risk taken by visually impaired or deaf-blind has already been very high whenever they step out of the boundaries of their house. With a disease which gets transmitted through touch or from the droplets of a sneeze, living life for people who use touch and smell as their eyes will become close to impossible.
Only nature can fill this gap or else differently abled will lose another pair of eyes.
1. Doerr Anthony, All the Light We Cannot See, 2014 edition, Simon & Schuster, pg: 36, 37
2. Manning Erin, Politics of Touch, 2006 edition, University of Minnesota Press, pg: 4, 84, 135
3. Boyle O’Rourke Marjorie, Senses of Touch: Human Dignity and Deformity from Michelangelo to Calvin, 1998 edition, Brill, Pg: 1
4. Paterson Mark, The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies, 2007 edition, Berg, pg: 1,4 https://books.google.co.in/books?id=jpfMeFO8YPYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=sense+of+touch&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjQ5-u4p6_qAhVROisKHZdkAKkQ6AEwAnoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q&f=false
5. Klatzky, R. L., Lederman, S. J., & Reed, C. (1987). There’s more to touch than meets the eye: The salience of object attributes for haptics with and without vision. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 116(4), Pg: 356–369. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-34220.127.116.116
6. Trevino Trancozo Miguel (2020), The people trying to save scents from extinction, BBC Future, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200108-why-preserving-certain-scents-is-important
7. Hardach Sophie (2019), The power of our hidden senses, BBC Future, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190314-the-power-of-hidden-senses-like-echolocation