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Sign language equivalents

From: Lee Otto <Lee.Otto@aspect.com.au>
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2002 11:12:57 +1030
Message-ID: <65DB394748BED211AA6700A0C9EC2832022EDDBE@aspcbr-mail1.cbr.aspect.com.au>
To: "'w3c-wai-gl@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Hi again,
The sign language subject has been most interesting.  I'd like to echo
Charles comments really, particularly about different sign languages. I have
a very close friend who trained as a speech therapist in the US but now
practices in Australia.  She has specialised in stroke victims after having
worked in the US with intellectually disabled people primarily because the
sign language used here is so different to the sign language she learnt in
the US.  

I know of at least 5 sign languages in Australia, most of which omit some
common linguistic features.  (I am unsure of the extent of their usage
however.) For example, my son first learnt Makaton.  Makaton has a sign for
"meat" - it doesn't differentiate the kind of meat.  My son now uses Auslan
which does differentiate kinds of meat (beef, chicken and so on).  However,
Auslan differentiates tense by using other  words like "yesterday" - not by
modifying a verb.  I have no experience with signed English but believe from
talking to some users of it that it can differentiate tense by adding signed
endings to signed words.  My belief is (please correct me Charles if I'm in
error) that the sign language used depends on the disability. 
Most of my deaf friends use either Auslan or signed English.  My son
originally learnt Makaton because of his intellectual disability not because
of his hearing loss which wasn't picked up until a year later.  He uses
Auslan now for a similar reason - concepts like tense are foreign to him but
temporal events obviously aren't.

Consequently, your understanding of language can be influenced by the kind
of sign language you use.  I know that grammar for example needs to be
learnt early - it is not a concept that you can pick up later in life so
people who gain hearing as an adult often have trouble with the nuances of
grammar (consider the rules regarding the ordering of adjectives).  I'm sure
if needed Charles could elaborate with much more authority than I can.

And I iterate all of Charles' comments about learning to read and write.
Well said! 

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute again.


Lee Otto
Ph: (02) 6245 8133
Fax: (02) 6247 7620

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Received on Tuesday, 12 March 2002 19:46:14 UTC

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