Sign Language and Gesturing

British sign language letter A

Type of Assistive Technology: Low-tech/No-tech

Level of Ability: The child must be able to use fine and gross motor skills to move fingers and arms.

How It Works: The child may learn useful signs for communicating needs, wants, or feelings. The person they are communicating with must also know what the signs mean.

Possible Uses: For this model of communication, it is required that the child and those who communicate with the child learn the sign meanings. The child may learn individual signs, American Sign Language, or Pidgin Signed English.

Notes: There is controversy over the use of signing and gesturing in children that are hearing, however research suggests that manual signs are useful for most children with intellectual disabilities and that manual signs can also be of value to children identified as functional speakers (study listed below).

Vandereet, J., Maes, B., Lembrechts, D., & Zink, I. (2011). Expressive vocabulary acquisition in children with intellectual disability: speech or manual signs?  Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 36(2), 91-104.

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