Teaching American Sign Language to Hearing Parents of Deaf Children with Games

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Goebel, Madeleine Elizabeth
Starner, Thad
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More than 95% of deaf children in the United States are born to hearing parents (Mitchell & Karchmer 2004). With the majority of hearing parents having little to no exposure to American Sign Language (ASL) prior to the birth of their deaf child, many struggle to learn sign language while also beginning to use it to communicate with their new infant. The language deprivation experienced by deaf children as a result of their parents’ inability to communicate delays their development (Kusche 1984). With the advent of smartphones and the rising popularity of movements such as BabySign, many different portable ASL lessons have been developed. It has been shown that these lessons are more effective at teaching vocabulary than classroom lessons (Lu 2008). However, these lessons struggle with a high attrition rate of students after a few weeks (Summet 2010). Recent developments in student-centered education indicate that incorporating achievement goals leads to a lower attrition rate in language classes (Oberg & Daniels 2013). To reduce the rate of attrition, I used a popular, multi-level game as a framework for the lessons and incorporated ASL phrases into the game play.
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