SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 46

Reading Methodology for Deaf Children Supalla Some Indications of Signed Language Reading To begin with, adequate signed language reading research has never been presented on Mimography. Bébian did report on deaf children’s performance with reading in French Sign Language when he described the writing system’s success as questionable. Rée (1999) wrote that “...Bébian’s own claim that the 150 characters of [M]imography could be mastered by a deaf signer within ‘eight or ten days’ had a quality of crazed desperation...” (p. 301). The earlier discussion of the i nternal problems with the French Sign Language writing system suggests that the French effort with signed language reading should not be pursued. The fact that multiple research publications have been produced in regard to signed language reading at the American charter school is most welcoming. This includes valuable data on how well deaf children perform in reading gloss text, as it is unconventional and has no precedence in the general literature on glossing. A variety of reading behaviors to follow that deaf children have demonstrated are promising. The first known publication on signed language reading with deaf children in the United States is the S. Supalla, Wix, and McKee paper (2001). The data is descriptive in nature. Deaf kindergarteners at the charter school learning to read their name signs written in the ASL-phabet were subject to videotaping for later analysis. The description of the particular classroom activity led by the teacher is: The teacher showed one card at a time and asked the class who the written name referred to. The students recognized their names by looking at the first two graphemes (i.e., handshape and location information). They signed their names to indicate that they recognized the written names. The students were clearly engaged in the activity. (p. 9) The authors of the paper went on to write: …deaf students ‘read’ words with only partial information (i.e., handshape- location/symbol relationships) and the context of a name-reading exercise. This is comparable to the kinds of early success that hearing kindergartners get when first identifying consonant sound/symbol relationships in the context of words they are learning. At the [Arizona charter school], such activities show the beginning development of metalinguistic awareness for ASL signs. [Teachers] start children on the handshape and location graphemes in kindergarten and first grade. Movement graphemes are mastered first through third grade levels. (pp. 9-10) The detailed nature of how skills were taught at the charter school supported the Arizona Academic Standards’ reading component, which dictates that kindergartners begin identifying words in print through consonants (whereas vowels are more difficult to learn and master). It is interesting to note that the teachers at the charter school were not sure how to teach deaf children in reading signs at first. The children’s learning patterns ultimately shaped the instruction design with the ASL-phabet. The handshape-location/symbol relationships were easier to learn as compared to the movement/symbol relationships, thus the former was seen as involving consonants and the latter vowels. There is support for such a signed word structure in the ASL linguistics community. Diane Brentari, a well-known and highly reputable linguist presented an SASLJ, Vol. 1, No. 1 – Fall/Winter 2017 46