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ASL & Early Literacy


Justine Fagan-Bywater

on 19 March 2014

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Transcript of ASL & Early Literacy

American Sign Language & Early Literacy
#1. What is American Sign Language? If ASL doesn't use speech, how is it a language? Do Deaf children need speech model for language development?
In the year of 1960, William Stokoe developed sign language as a separate language independent of any spoken language. American Sign Language (ASL) is the official language of the Deaf community in North America that incorporates hand signals, facial expressions and body movement. ASL is a visual language that includes a vocabulary and grammar of its own; visual flow, hand shapes, how the palm of the hands face, movements and signals on the facial features, using eye gaze, eyebrows/mouth movements, and using your body movement/head shift are all a part of ASL.
When children are first born, they begin developing the foundation of the language, by using movements of their hands, body and facial expressions. Communication learned from babies can be understood through emotion by using signals or sounds to express humour, needs and desires as well as other challenging ideas with little frustration. To fully understand one language can also help you extend your understanding of multiple other languages through the practice of reading and writing. For a Deaf child(ren) to achieve their roles of language without any restrictions can fully acquire the full linguistic expression and fully understand without being left behind.
#3. What are the effects of a sign language on learning another language and on the development of a spoken language?
There are no evidence that the acquisition of a sign language will interfere with your child(ren)'s ability to learn speech. There are Deaf children of Deaf parents who have the ability to speak; we cannot worry as a community that speech development is not equivalent to language acquisition, because it is strongly understood that anyone can achieve anything they set their minds to. Researchers show that the natural foundations of a language will show increased cognitive development and increased language with increased neurological (brain) activity in the language area of the brain regardless of modality. The new evidence informs us that the learning of a language is what is crucial rather than the learning of a spoken language per se. Cognitive Neuroscientist Laura Petitto studied both hearing and Deaf bilingual children who were learning spoken English and ASL, as well as spoken French and LSQ. However, she found no negative effects from the children's' spoken languages in French and English of both Deaf and hearing children using ASL and LSQ. These results support earlier neurological studies. Additionally, it describes and reports positive results from ASL programs designed specifically for hearing children to assist their spoken English development as well.
#4. I have heard that my child will not go past a Grade 3 literacy level because he or she is Deaf. Is this true?
Literacy levels of Deaf children in North America are significantly lower than literacy levels of hearing children. Deaf children with Deaf parents have outperformed Deaf children with hearing parents in academic achievement, literacy and social aspects. However, 90% of Deaf children have hearing parents. It is extraordinary to find that in North America, the academic level of Deaf children in Sweden and Denmark where the language is required from early childhood that their literacy is higher than hearing peers. English is a second language for Deaf children. While it is visually accessible, it is based on spoken English which is a verbal language based on sound. Spoken language is not fully accessible to Deaf children. American Sign Language (ASL) however is fully accessible to Deaf children and can provide full speech ability, full access to knowledge and full exchange of deep emotions and complex ideas.
#5. What is literacy in American Sign Language and English? How are they different?
There are many levels of literacy in American Sign Language and English – using only 3 levels of literacy found in both ASL and English. Using the 3 literacy levels for children can determined to be a true accomplishment by them achieving to read, write and translate in both ASL and written English. Children will be able to appreciate the cultural importance of the literature they are exposed to in ASL and written English along with being able to analyze, critique and respond to the values inherent in the literature they see and read in both languages. American Sign Language (ASL) literatures are expressed through stories, legends, poems, riddles or jokes that have been passed down from one generation to another by other Deaf people. It’s passed down by the thoughts, emotions and experiences of culturally Deaf people. ASL is an unwritten language, however ASL literature resides from an "oral literature" tradition. Fascinatingly enough, ASL is told through the air rather than written down. It can be recorded on videotapes, CD ROMS, DVDs, on the Internet and on film. Deaf literature also refers to written stories, poems, songs, non-fiction and other genres, which include Deaf characters, Deaf culture, Deaf identity and Deaf experience written by Deaf people. Ultimately, highlighting the significance of Deaf literature for Deaf children is the key to help them connect themselves in what they read to further identify them. The significance of Deaf literature to hearing children is that they learn about Deaf experience from Deaf people. Eventually, it can reduce stereotypes, misinformation, and improve hearing children's learning experience and lives.
Parents of Deaf Children
#6. What is bilingual bicultural education and what should I look for in a bilingual education program?
Bilingual-Bicultural education is about the larding of two languages and two cultures at once. It is about the Deaf children appreciating who they are, how they feel and how to appreciate others. It is about developing their abilities to the fullest and becoming empowered to express them without limits. Through a powerful bilingual-bicultural education, Deaf children can meet the world with the wholeness of who they are and are meant to be. Bilingual-Bicultural programs for Deaf children should reflect what they want in their lives; a good place to start in what they're looking for, to be respectful for yourself and others along with combination of intellectual decision-making and encouragement for the human rights of Deaf children and adults outside of school are all features that will be included.
#7. How do I choose a program for my child? Why is it so important to pick an appropriate program for Deaf children?
Choosing an appropriate program also benefits your child in many ways you want that child to have the best education possible, to have all doors open to him or her with all opportunities to explore life's possibilities. There is such a thing called "framework" that creates structure to help guide you to choose the best education program for your Deaf child. The framework has 4 educational settings that includes; cultural/linguistic incorporation, community participation, interactive pedagogy and advocacy oriented evaluation. It is beneficial for any child to have a role model – it creates an entrance to opportunities for their own leadership development as they get older. For your Deaf child(ren), once chosen a program – they can offer you a program to join for support within a community environment to help you understand from a Deaf perspective.
American Sign Language - First Language Acquisition
Literacy Resources
One of out several resources, this is what fascinates me to recommend this children's book.
ASL Babies Series includes;
- First Signs
- Let's Eat
- Get Dressed
- Outside
Breindel, T. J., Carter, M. (2013, May 20). Dawnsignpress. Retrieved from http://www.dawnsign.com/series/baby-signs/8
Silent Voice
Family Communication Program (FCP)
Located in:
Program Director:
Contact Information:
Mike Cyr
VOICE - (416) 463-1104
TTY - (416) 463-3928
FAX - (416) 778-1876
EMAIL - silent.voice@silentvoice.ca
Cyr, M. (2013, May 20). Silent voice. Retrieved from http://silentvoice.ca/child-family/family-communication/
50 St. Clair Ave East
Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 1M9
What is a barrier to a Deaf child?
Do you see barriers interfere/effect your Deaf child?
How can it be prevented?
"Barriers to Achievement by Deaf Children." Ndcs.org. National Deaf Children's Society, June 2008. Web. 23 June 2013. <www.ndcs.org.uk>. (PDF Format, see attachment in email).
"Position Statement on Schools of the Deaf." National Association of the Deaf. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 July 2013. <http:/http://www.nad.org/issues/education/k-12/position-statement-schools-deaf>.

In this statement, they specified the difference being made when putting your Deaf child(ren) into an educational system comparing “regular” school that will be required to meet your child’s accommodation needs (highly costly) or putting them into a Deaf school, already qualified including their heritage, culture, and language (no cost). After all, just like every other human individuals, Deaf child(ren) are to learn (long-term) developing their emotional, social and cognitive abilities to recognize themselves as a human potential and their identity by choosing the right educational setting that do offer the freedom of communication found in their school. This statement was useful for my research, supporting the idea of how to properly show the difference and educate parents of Deaf child(ren) based on choosing the right educational system for your Deaf child(ren).

"Guide to Education of Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing." Kansas State Department of Education. Core Writing Committee, n.d. Web. 3 July 2013. <http:/http://www.ksde.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=zx2msZjP5YQ=>.

In this PDF article, this is a guideline to educate families, teachers and administrators the tools/resources on how to work with children whom are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing and based on their future of education needs based on language, literacy and communication. The benefits to this article are the methods in recognizing children’s communication and language development, along with documents supporting the planning of how to successfully meet the child’s needs for the right educational system. What I most find interesting about this article is learning each certain vocabulary – based on “verbal ability”, difference between “receptive language” and “expressive language”, and “visual listening”. Gives me more of an understanding what other certain professions are using to examine Deaf child(ren) and how to know exactly what matches their needs in becoming a successful human individual.

Website #1
Website #2
Website #3
Website #4
Website #5
"General Resources." Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans. Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans, n.d. Web. 3 July 2013. <http:/http://www.mncdhh.org/other-resources/>.

This website contains many categories such as general, education, employment, history, family, technology, healthcare, voting and technical assistance of many resources for those whom are seeking more information and assistance. This truly applies to my field of knowledge by researching more history, education and culture of the Deaf community and individuals – to my understanding of how to promote the correct information. Not only that, but – to gain the knowledge of other areas (Minnesota/United States) to my understanding more of their history being brought up and how to apply that in today’s world.

Wikipedia. American Sign Language. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Sign_Language. [Last Accessed 27 May 13].
Deaf Culture Centre. What is American Sign Language?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.deafculturecentre.ca/Public/Default.aspx?I=479&n=What+is+American+Sign+Language+(ASL). [Last Accessed 27 May 13].
#2. What is simcom? Should we use it with our Deaf child?
Simultaneous communication, also known as "simcom", uses signs and voice at the same time, which is a combination of using your voice and hands to communicate. Simcom also involves a mixture of different sign-based codes that are not orderly as natural languages. For example, combining parts of spoken language structure and a part of signed language structure does not support the full grammar on either of the two languages. Within every language, they have their own grammatical structure - the more you practice your language, the easier it is to use. Likewise, it becomes easier to develop social rules. Most researchers that have done thorough studies find that when a spoken language is combined with ASL, the main language often disappears as it becomes rarely practiced. Using Simcom does not follow the natural pitch and tone patterns of spoken English along with many signs that are deleted from the use of ASL structure.
Simcom is not a formal communication-based used on a daily basis. Deaf child(ren) need to build the foundation of English and American Sign Language - using one or the other as a support and not blending into one. Using spoken language will be out of their hearing reach and the sign system will not reflect the full grammar of any language, so in essence, get your child to start off with one language so he or she can develop the functionalities of another language that follows, and will not only allow them to be more fluent, but progress at exponential rates.
Deaf Culture Centre. (2013, May 27). What is simcom? should we use it with our deaf children?. Retrieved from http://www.deafculturecentre.ca/Public/Default.aspx?I=480&n=
EL Newport, University of Rochester (1990). Language Development, Critical Periods. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bcs.rochester.edu/people/newport/Newport-ECS-A0506.PDF. [Last Accessed 22 August 12].
Deaf Culture Centre. (2013, May 27). What are the effects of a sign language on learning another language and on the development of a spoken language?. Retrieved from http://www.deafculturecentre.ca/Public/Default.aspx?I=481&n=What are the effects of a sign language on learnin
William Vicars (2003). The relationship between Literacy and ASL. [ONLINE] Available at: http://lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/literacy1.htm. [Last Accessed 27 May 13].
Deaf Culture Centre. I have heard that my child will not go past Grade 3 Literacy level if he or she is Deaf. Is this true?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.deafculturecentre.ca/Public/Default.aspx?I=482&n=I+ha... [Last Accessed 27 May 13]
William Vicars (2003). The relationship between Literacy and ASL. [ONLINE] Available at: http://lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/literacy1.htm. [Last Accessed 27 May 13].
Deaf Culture Centre. What is Literacy in American Sign Language & English?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.deafculturecentre.ca/Public/Default.aspx?I=483&n=What+is+literacy+in+American+Sign+Language+and+Eng. [Last Accessed 27 May 13].
Deaf Culture Centre. What is Bilingual Bicultural Deaf education and what should I look for in a Bilingual education program?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.deafculturecentre.ca/Public/Default.aspx?I=484&n=What+is+bilingual+bicultural+Deaf+education. [Last Accessed 27 May 13].
EL Newport, University of Rochester (1990). Language Development, Critical Periods. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bcs.rochester.edu/people/newport/Newport-ECS-A0506.PDF. [Last Accessed 27 May 13].
Deaf Culture Centre. How do I choose a program for my child?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.deafculturecentre.ca/Public/Default.aspx?I=485&n=How+do+I+choose+a+program+for+my+child%3F. [Last Accessed 27 May 13].
Raising and Educating a Deaf child. (n.d.). Rochester Institute of Technology . Retrieved May 27, 2013, from http:/http://www.rit.edu/ntid/educatingdeafchildren/
This document seeks to define the term of Bilingualism, explaining why it is so important today, along with strategies’ to overcome the concerns and issues for Deaf children’s Literacy and Language. This PDF includes strategies for Language and Literacy planning along with explaining what the roles of teachers as well. This is a perfect guideline for me, as I can learn how to accommodate the children’s needs by using this as a tool. Positive thing about this it has teaching materials, activities, along with Language checklist to help guide you throughout your lessons. It has all the explanation of terms to understand between Literacy of ASL and English, as well and what best works for your child and their ability to learn and how to become successful.
A Language and Literacy Framework for Bilingual Deaf Education. (n.d.). University of Manitoba. Retrieved May 27, 2013, from http:/http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~ennscj/l
This article discusses the importance of American Sign Language for today’s society and along with some good resources that are used by others who have researched and discovered some studies along with children using ASL. There are some benefits to how we can use American Sign Language and how there is no negative impact as well. One good point is where teachers as their role should learn ASL for their classmates (if Deaf) only because, it reduces less frustration to try to understand what that child is expressing along with giving that child a sense of empowerment just because, he/she can communicate which leads a happy child. The statistics that have been discovered is interesting as the IQ is higher of 8-13 points of those children whom learned American Sign Language at a young age. This benefits me as to see that there are no negative aspects in learning American Sign Language and for me to use a resource tool.
The Benefits of American Sign Language. (n.d.). ASL University. Retrieved May 27, 2013, from http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/the-benefits-of-american-sign-language.htm
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