American Sign Language & Signed English

American Sign Language and Signed English are both used when communicating with the hearing impaired and the basic signs for words are the same. However, there is a difference between the two. With Signed English (SE), a sign is executed for every word in a sentence whereas American Sign Language is used to convey a concept. Signed English is more likely to be used by those who do not consider themselves to be part of the Deaf Culture but who are deaf. Signed English was developed in 1972 as a way for instructors to teach English to children who were deaf. Signed English is also the most common form of sign language used in an Educational Setting because it helps children to learn English; however, it is also the form of sign language that takes the longest to interpret because every single word is signed, rather than the general concept, as in American Sign Language. ASL is a visual language, and speech, reading or listening skills are not needed to learn ASL fluently.

Because of its visual nature, ASL is very graphic, and understanding of concepts can be promoted more easily. It has developed over time through usage by deaf individuals and is a free-flowing, natural language. ASL is a language complete in itself. It is not usually written or spoken, but can be translated, just like French or German, to English and vice versa. ASL has it’s own syntax and grammar. It does count as a language credit at University level, because it is a separate language.

Accommodations would be necessary for students using American Sign Language and Signed English. Changes that can be made to the way students with disabilities are instructed and assessed. Accommodations can be made to instructional methods and materials, assignments and assessments, learning environment, time demands and schedules, and special communication systems. Special accommodations allowed for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test include response, presentation, setting, schedule, and assistive technology. Reasonable accommodations are individualized and flexible, based on the nature of the disability and the academic environment. Classroom accommodations include, sign language and oral interpreting, real-time captioning (C-Print), peer note-taking, closed captioning, assistive listening devices (ALD), preferred seating, lighting and background noise reduction. Signed English is used to introduce students to sentence structure, whereas ASL is used in settings where the thought or message is the focus. Accommodations such as power points, visuals and an interpreter may be necessary. It is also important to write out what you are speaking.

 Specific language impairment becomes apparent at first in the preschool years, prior to formal schooling. Children with Specific Language impairment (SLI) have difficulties with overall language. Most children with SLI have normal hearing, but puts children at clear risk for academic difficulties, especially reading disabilities. Specific language impairment is a developmental language disorder that can affect both expressive and receptive language. Specific language impairment is defined as a “pure” language impairment, meaning that is not related to or caused by other developmental disorders, hearing loss or acquired brain injury. Accommodations might be necessary for children with specific language impairment. They may be eligible for “Birth to Three” which is free to parents. Activities to facilitate language development, parent intervention and early identification are vital. Intervention that enables children to communicate their needs and frustrations can help avoid behavior problems such as temper tantrums. 

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