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Rocket American Sign Language Course

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Rocket American Sign Language Course Summary


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Language of the Deaf Sign Language

Hearing loss limits deaf children's access to spoken languages, but deaf communities around the world acquire natural sign languages that create complete communication systems with the same subtlety and level of syntactic and semantic complexity as any spoken language. At the core of these communities are the 8 -10 of deaf chil dren with deaf parents who are exposed to sign language from birth. But some deaf children with hearing parents are also exposed to a natural sign language through contact with native-signing deaf children and adults in educational settings. Thus, deaf children may be speech-delayed, but they are not necessarily language-delayed or disordered in any sense.

Natural Sign Language Versus Artificial Signed Versions of Spoken Language

Sign languages, they are typically signed simultaneously with the spoken language as a form of sign-supported speech. In the United States there are several versions of manually coded English (MCE). The most widely used of these are Signed English, Signed Exact English, and Seeing Essential English. These all use lexical signs from ASL and English word order, but they vary in the degree to which created signs encode all of the function words or derivational and inflectional morphology of English. Second, several universal features of natural sign languages that have evolved to allow effective and rapid communication of meaning in a visual-spatial mode are not incorporated into MCE systems. These features include the use of space as a grammatical and semantic device, simultaneous morphology, and nonmanual linguistic markers. Indeed, in several respects MCE systems directly violate these universal principles and so can be very confusing for deaf children who have been exposed to ASL...

Characteristics of American Sign Language and Other Natural Sign Languages

This entry focuses on American Sign Language (ASL) because it is the natural sign language used in the United States and it has been the most extensively studied. However, many of the issues raised here about the unique properties of natural sign languages and the normal pattern of acquisition of those languages by deaf children exposed to complete and early input apply to all natural sign languages. ASL and other natural sign languages are formally structured at different levels and follow the same universal constraints and organizational principles of all natural languages. Like the distinctive features of spoken phonology, a limited set of handshapes, movements, and places of articulation on the face and body distinguish different lexical signs. For example, in ASL the signs for SUMMER, UGLY, and DRY are produced with the same handshape and movement, but in different locations on the face (Bellugi et al., 1993). Just as in spoken languages, the syntactic rules of ASL operate on...

Developmental specificity of language functions in human

Studies of Deaf Adults Further evidence on this point was provided by ERP studies of English sentence processing by congenitally deaf individuals who learned English late and as a second language (American Sign Language or ASL was the first language of these subjects Neville, Mills, and Lawson, 1992). Deaf subjects displayed ERP responses to nouns and to semantically anomalous sentences in written English that were indistinguishable from those of normal hearing subjects who learned English as a first language. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that some aspects of lexical semantic processing are largely unaffected by the many aspects of language experience that differ between normally hearing and congenitally deaf individuals. By contrast, deaf subjects displayed aberrant ERP responses to grammatical information like that presented in function words in English. Specifically, they did not display the specialization of the anterior regions of the left hemisphere...

Explanations for developmental change in speech

A similar transition occurs in speech production. Regardless of culture, all infants show a universal progression in the development of speech which encompasses five distinct phases Cooing (1 to 4 months), in which infants produce sounds that resemble vowels Canonical Babbling (5 to 10 months), during which infants produce strings of consonant-vowel syllables, such as baba-baba or mamamama First Words (10 to 15 months), wherein infants use a consistent phonetic form to refer to an object Two Word Utterances (18 to 24 months), in which two words are combined in a meaningful way and Meaningful Speech (15 months and beyond), in which infants produce both babbling and meaningful speech to produce long intonated utterances (Ferguson, Menn, and Stoel-Gammon, 1992). Interestingly, deaf infants exposed to a natural sign language, such as American Sign Language (ASL), are purported to follow the same progression using a visual-manual mode of communication (Petitto, 1993).

Reasoning Beyond Grammar Evidence From Native And Non Native Signing Deaf Children

Clearer evidence for the position that grammar is insufficient for reasoning can be found from research involving deaf children from hearing families who achieve proficiency in the syntax of sign language only after school entry. These children are reliably outperformed on ToM tasks by native signing children from families with a deaf signing member. To examine the effects of access to language on cognitive development, Peterson and Siegal (1999) compared groups of severely and profoundly deaf children aged 5 to 12 years in their performance on theory of mind tasks. One group of children consisted of native signers from households with fluently signing deaf conversational partners. Another consisted of children from hearing families who learned sign language later Deaf children from signing families scored at a level similar to those of hearing children. However, the deaf from signing families outperformed deaf children from hearing families who in turn scored at a level similar to a...

Going Beyond the Input

Many deaf children are exposed to incomplete versions of ASL, from deaf parents who are not native signers or hearing parents still learning ASL. In this input morphological rules in particular may be inconsistently used. However, children systematize their sign language to make consistent rules out of what are only statistical regularities in their parents' signing (Newport, 1999 Newport and Aslin, 2000). For example, spatial agreement markers on verbs of motion that were correct only about two-thirds of the time in the parental input were used correctly more than 90 of the time by their children at age 7. The children create a more regular rule out of inconsistently used morphology, thus going beyond the input to acquire a more complete form of ASL. Even with no conventional signed input, deaf children of hearing parents in oral environments create rich gestural systems, although these are not complete languages (Goldin-Meadow, 2001). Over a longer period of time and several...

Deaf Peoples Clinical Service Requirements

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 in the UK prevents d Deaf people from being discriminated against by any service providers, including the Health Service and hospitals (RNID, 2006b). This means that the health profession needs to ensure that communication issues are addressed, for example through the installation of text-based and video-based information and telephone systems as well as providing access to qualified interpreters supporting the preferred language of deaf clients. In an ideal world all health professionals would have Deaf awareness training and those working regularly with deaf clients would be proficient in signed language and lipspeaking.

Assessment of and Intervention with Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

In addition to an analysis of communication skills, cognitive development, and age at identification, assessments should include information about the social-emotional development of both parents and children. Relationships have been found between language development and parental stress (Pipp-Siegel, Sedey, and Yoshinaga-Itano, 2002), emotional availability (Pressman et al., 1999) parent involvement (Moeller, 2000), grief resolution (Pipp-Siegel, 2000), development of sense of self (Pressman, 2000), and mastery motivation (Pipp-Siegel et al., 2002). The relationships examined in these studies do not establish causes, but it is plausible that intervention strategies focused on these areas may enhance the language development of young children with hearing loss. Counseling strategies with parent sign language instruction enhanced language development During the school-age period, standardized assessments consist of regularly administered tests of language (receptive and expressive...

Acquisition of ASL by Native Signing Children

Deaf children exposed at an early age to a sufficiently rich input acquire a full natural sign language as effortlessly and rapidly as hearing children acquire their native spoken language. Deaf babies ''babble'' in sign at about the same age as their hearing peers babble in speech, repeating the handshape or movement components of signs in a rhythmic fashion (Pettito and Marentette, 1991). Just as in canonical babbling the child's phonetic repertoire comes to be restricted to that of the child's native language, so too the sign-babbling deaf child shifts to incorporating only the restricted set of hand-shapes and movements found in the input sign language. Notably, the phonetic units found in ''canonical'' man Thus the same developmental processes and constraints apply to the natural acquisition of ASL and other sign languages as to the normal development of any spoken language. The pattern of acquisition is primarily dictated by the linguistic and cognitive complexity of forms, not...

The Sign And Spoken Language Program

Use of manual signs adapted from American Sign Language (ASL) and paired with spoken words is an important strategy in Miller Method (MM) programs for developing communicative capacity. Signs are often readily grasped because they resemble the events they represent. The Sign and Spoken Language Program (SSLP) extends the work described in Chapter 4 (Getting Started with the Miller Method ) and Chapter 5, on the Elevated Square. This program presents the manual signs in a way that takes into account the challenges that children on the autism spectrum confront in trying to understand and use language. In doing so, it advances the children's

Hearing Disorders

Hearing disorders may be caused by a wide variety of problems either at birth or any time thereafter. Profound hearing loss from birth or an early age makes the acquisition of spoken language very difficult. However, deaf infants and children all go through the same developmental speech stages in acquiring gestural language such as American Sign Language.

Wernickes Area

This distinction between speech and language is key to understanding the role of Wernicke's area to language. It does not simply affect spoken language, but also written and signed language. Wer-nicke's area works with Broca's area, Wernicke's handling incoming speech and Broca's handling outgoing speech.

Further Readings

T., and Stewart, D. (1998). Constructing simultaneous communication The contributions of natural sign language. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 3, 302-319. Hoffmeister, R. (1990). American Sign Language and education of the deaf. In H. Bornstein (Ed.), Manual communication Implications for education. Washington, DC Gallaudet University Press. American Sign Language. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 36, 1258-1270.


Within this chapter the terms 'deaf' and 'deafness' refer to people with an audiologi-cal loss within severe profound levels, 'hearing loss' is an all-inclusive term that refers to any level or type of audiological hearing loss. 'Deaf' written with an uppercase 'D' refers to a deaf person who is culturally Deaf, i.e. uses sign language (e.g. British or a National Sign Language) as their first or preferred language and has a positive identity attached to being deaf. The term d Deaf refers to deaf people who identify with both the Deaf community and the hearing world this term is generally used in relation to adults rather than children. The term 'hearing-impaired' is avoided as many Deaf people would not view themselves as 'impaired' in any way however, it is acknowledged that this term is widely used among health professionals as a generic term instead of 'deafness' used in this context. The deaf community is an inclusive term to refer to all people with any level and perception of...


Deaf and hard of hearing individuals use a variety of different forms of communication speech, National Signed Language (NSL), Signed Supported Spoken Language (SSSL), which refers to the sign language which can be a literal translation of spoken language for any country, lip-reading, writing, reading, cued speech, use of non-verbal cues through gesturing and facial expressions. Particularly within a counselling context, effective communication does not always have to mean fluency in language - the use of non-verbal cues, facial expressions and body language all offer a form of communication that can express what a person is feeling sometimes more than a language can. NSL has its own grammatical structure and is different from SSSL which usually follows the pattern of speech. It has sometimes been the case that deaf children fall behind their hearing counterparts in reading and writing skills (Holt et al., 1992, in Ralston & Israel, 1995). Some older research has indicated that the...

Deafnesshearing Loss

Providing genetic assessment to a deaf individual or couple can be challenging at many levels (Israel et al., 1996). A hearing health provider may have trouble obtaining a medical-family history from a deaf client, because of communication barriers. Deaf individuals may use any combination of skills to communicate, such as a signed language like American or British Sign Language (ASL and BSL, respectively), lip reading, a tactile communicator (for a deaf-blind individual), writing on paper, or using a laptop computer. Phone conversation between an individual with hearing loss and the hearing health provider can be accessed through a TTY message-relay system. The service operator relays, word for word, the communication between the message typed by the deaf person to the hearing person, and vice versa. A certified ASL interpreter (preferably one with medical knowledge) should interpret during clinical visits. From the perspective of the hearing health professional, the translated...


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. Bonvillian, J. (1999). Sign language development. In M. Barrett (Ed.), The development of language. Hove, U.K. Psychology Press. Hoffmeister, R., and Wilbur, R. (1980). The acquisition of sign language. In H. Lane and F. Grosjean (Eds.), Recent perspectives on American Sign Language. Hillsdale, NJ Erlbaum. Humphries, T., Padden, C., and O'Rourke, T. (1980). A basic course in American Sign Language. Silver Springs, MD T.J....

Mental Retardation

One intervention approach that has been developed for use with individuals with severe communication difficulties is augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). AAC encompasses all forms of communication, from simple gestures, manual signs and picture communication boards to American Sign Language and sophisticated computer-based devices that can speak in phrases and sentences for their users. Children with mental retardation who can benefit from AAC are usually identified based on communication profiles. The majority of children with mental retardation who use AAC have more severe forms of mental retardation. These children never develop any speech, or develop only a few words, or are echolalic. For them, AAC provides a means with which to develop receptive and expressive language skills (Romski and Sevcik, 1996).