Sign language not just useful for the hard of hearing

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Interesting article here on the benefits of sign language for babies:

Garcia first learned sign language in the 1970s. Years later, while working on a master’s thesis, he observed how hearing children of deaf parents could sign fluently by age 1. He began studying the phenomenon and soon became convinced that the skills could be taught to any child.

Kristy Davies, a New Jersey speech-language pathologist and ASL instructor, conducted a research study last year while a graduate student at La Salle University in Philadelphia. She compared hearing children who learned ASL to their nonsigning peers.

She followed 20 children between 6 and 8 months of age for nine months. At the end of the study period, she found that the signing children, when compared to national norms, used more words at a younger age than their peers who didn’t sign. “They were talking more and with a larger vocabulary,” says Davies.

Although it wasn’t a formal part of her study, Davies says parents also reported that teaching their babies sign language did much to reduce their children’s frustration. “The moms were so pleased that their children could tell them what they wanted,” she says.


“The notion that if a child signs, he won’t talk, is archaic,” says Garcia. “That’s like saying that if you learn Norwegian, you can never learn Swahili. Sign language is a mode of communication.”

Zing! That's actually how I found this article, searching for something on Norwegian.

More effective communication with babies though isn't a good enough argument to sell the idea of a basic literacy in sign language to the average person. What's more effective is the idea of being able to effectively communicate through windows or from car to car. As I write this for example there are two people smoking in front of the Starbucks where I am, and if everyone had a basic knowledge of sign language I would be able to simply knock on the window and let them know if their car was being towed away, but since we don't know how to do that I would have to physically get up and leave the coffee shop before I could communicate with them.

After all, the Drow all knew sign language and we know how much ass they kicked.


Anonymous said...

Not to mention divers. Most divers know some basic signs such as "my air is running out" and "okay". Divers proficient in sign language, on the other hand, are able to have meaningful conversations down below.

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