The visual-spatial nature of sign languages—the fact that they are articulated with the hands and perceived through the eyes—does not relegate them to the realm of pantomime and gesture. Natural sign languages are as subtle and complex as any spoken language and are structured according to universal linguistic principles. Deaf children exposed to a complete and consistent natural sign language early in childhood acquire the language normally, following the same stages and learning processes as are observed in hearing children acquiring their native spoken language.
—Peter A. de Villiers and Jennie Pyers References
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