This summary of the DCAL conference has been kindly circulated by Catherine Drew, Leader of Bilingual Practice at Frank Barnes School: [log in to unmask]
Language in Speech & Sign (Mairead Macsweeney)
Lip reading tests on Deaf and hearing children showed no difference whereas lip reading tests on deaf and hearing adults showed a large difference; Deaf adults had high lip-reading skills when hearing adults had poor lip reading skills – due to less use of lip reading and reliance on sound whereas in children, both deaf & hearing children utilise all the skills they have to learn.
Part of this research was in rhyme; did rhyme tests with both deaf & hearing people; for hearing people, rhyme testing was with sound e.g. Chair / Bear and for Deaf people, rhyme testing was with hands/location e.g. NUT / BEARD (same location) while testing, brain scans in both Deaf & hearing people showed exactly the same brain activity which basically means we all use the same brain pattern in BSL / English.
Language Disorders in Deaf Children (Ros Herman)
Created new BSL testing for Children with SLI (Language Impairment); looked at the hearing children’s tests, used the same process but in BSL and predicted the same sort of results that we would expect to see in children with SLI which were very low. After testing e.g. Sentence Repetition / Fluency Tasks, results showed no real difference from normal Deaf children.
Seems that in spoken language for SLI Children, there is a big difference whereas with BSL, very small difference which means currently, diagnosing/spotting children with possible SLI is really difficult- think it is due to language modality e.g. spoken language = speak a long word / BSL – cannot sign a long sign!
More research to be done in this area however they have made recommendations for Deaf children with SLI;
o Should be in a strong BSL environment
o Deaf School / language role-models
o Sign Language Therapy
Sign & Speech Links (Gabriella Vigliocco)
Primarily focused on iconicity;
Research ‘proved’ that we understand iconic signs faster than non-iconic signs. Early use of BSL will result in understanding iconic signs faster.
Another area of research was; Do hands and mouth slip together? (e.g. if we make a signing mistake, do our mouths also make an English mistake)
If yes – means we combine two languages together – English on the mouth and BSL on the hands.
If No – means it is a bilingual production as English on the mouth is working separately to the hands and BSL on the hands is separate to the mouth so the brain is processing bilingually.
Research currently shows NO – that we are using a bilingual production! This research is ongoing.
Deaf Children’s Cognitive Development (Gary Morgan & Bencie Woll)
Testing was done by producing possible and impossible BSL sentences; these sentences were then judged by children and adults. After accumulating the results, it showed that native adult signers exposed to BSL from birth did better in the test than signers who learnt BSL late. = The earlier, the better!
Two other areas of this research were;
Children who develop good receptive skills and motor skills (e.g. bead threading) will develop good language as the skills affect the ability to learn BSL.
Predictors (Testing was focused on mother & child)
We know that if parents and children communicate, play, engage daily will develop language naturally – this was focused on two sets;
Mental – mums who use mental skills with children e.g think, know, understand, dream, memory…children will then go on to learn much faster and develop empathetic skills.
Physical – mums who use physical skills with children e.g. red, car, things…children learn slower.
This result showed that while hearing mums with hearing children used mental skills, hearing mums with deaf children use physical skills which is largely due to the fact that communication is a difficulty and the ‘natural’ conversation/questioning the world around the child is not there.
One ongoing research is a Deaf Identity Research in 16-20yr olds by 3 people; Kate Rowley, Bencie Woll & Indie Johal. They are researching 3 groups; 1 – deaf in mainstream, 2 – deaf in oral schools, 3 – deaf in signing schools. Results to date shows little due to low numbers of deaf people, hope to get more results later.