Sign bilingualism in education-policy and practice

Moffatt-Feldman, Emma (2014) Sign bilingualism in education-policy and practice. Practice and Research in Education. pp. 7-15.

E Moffatt-Feldman Sign Bilingualism.pdf

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The document ‘Sign Bilingualism: A Model’ (1998) by leading proponents Pickersgill and Gregory described sign bilingual education (SBE) and clarified definitions and principles for those working in the education sector (Swanwick, 2006). The goals of SBE are that deaf children become linguistically competent, have a wider access to curriculum, facilitate literacy skills and provide a positive sense of identity (Gregory, 2006). This report focused on relevant theories proposed by Pickersgill, Gregory and Swanwick, seeking to identify and demonstrate how the move to SBE has positively made a difference to the education of deaf pupils and identify any weaknesses that remain. Key findings were that whilst their original model laid out the idea for educating deaf pupils within mainstream, giving equal status and access to English (spoken and written) and British Sign Language (BSL), the application was challenging. Their model presented extensive explanations and guidance to the education community of how best to support, teach and communicate with deaf pupils but this failed to take place. Variances in practice from the SBE model (1998) were partly due to medical advice, instructing parents of deaf children with CI to avoid using sign language believing it would hinder the development of oralism/auralism (Nussbaum and Scott, 2004). An updated model explained what was occurring at ground level and how to continue practice using Sign Supported English (SSE). It ignored research showing that the acquisition of BSL is as easy as spoken language if access is equal and available (Swanwick, 2000) and that deaf children with deaf BSL-using-parents achieve academically higher than deaf peers with hearing parents. This is due to well established pre-linguistic skills demonstrating that sign language is of benefit for the education of deaf pupils (Gregory, 1996).

Item Type: Article
Divisions: School of Education and Psychology > Education
University Publications > Research > Practice & Research in Education
Depositing User: Tracey Gill
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2015 14:08
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2019 08:56

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