Sign Language and Hearing Impaired

A Guide to Web Resources


Beth Hass, Lisa Lopina, Julie Miller & Sarah Stolzenberg

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, EdPsy 313,

Fall 2000 (Gary Cziko, instructor)


Types of Sign Language

Basic American Sign Language ( is an interactive website that displays animated and text definitions of different concepts of sign language. For instance, anything from the letters of the alphabet to numbers. It also talks about different characteristics an individual using sign language should have.

Fingerspelling ( is an American Sign Language fingerspelling dictionary website. It includes a dictionary, a reflective quiz, a converter from common words to American Sign Language fingerspelling, and a download for the Macintosh with a fingerspelling dictionary.

British ( now has over 400 words on its website for a web browser to see. Anything from countries and days of the week to food. Besides words, it also has groups and phrases of words.

French ( includes the manual alphabet, an online dictionary, a word translator, and a cybersign section. These are all useful to the web browser interested in learning French Sign Language.

Deaf Sign Language ( has links to over 100 other different Sign Languages to browse over. Attached is anything from Australian and Greek to Zimbabwe Sign Language.

Teaching Strategies for Sign Language

The Animated American Sign Language Dictionary is a site that provides numerous signs and fingerspelling for selected English vocabulary. This site is a great way to learn simple signs within American Sign Language to use in the classroom. It provides the viewer animated videos for each of the signs denoted in the dictionary, allowing them a visual approach towards learning American Sign Language that can easily be brought into the home and/or the classroom through the internet.

Strategies for Communication between the Hearing and Hearing-Impaired offers important tips and advice for stimulating communication between persons of hearing and persons who are hearing-impaired. This site provides basic, yet very relevant and key, ideas on how to communicate with persons with a mild hearing-impairment as well as persons with a profound hearing-impairment. The ideas pointed out within this site should be taken into consideration when introducing and using sign language within the classroom.

Strategies for Teaching Children with Hearing Impairments provides more detailed information on how to incorporate sign language into the classroom for both students who are hearing as well as students who are hearing-impaired. This site offers different simple strategies in teaching young children sign language, particularly and specifically within the areas of math and music.

Signing For All discusses how to incorporate sign language into the elementary classroom. This site provides the viewer with important information to consider when integrating sign language into the classroom. The authors of this site also include a detailed instructional implementation procedure to use when teaching signs. The site also provides reasons as to why incorporating sign language into the classroom is necessary and offers numerous vignettes relevant to this topic.

Yamada Web Guide to American Sign Language provides software on American Sign Language fonts that can be easily downloaded onto the computer. This software can be very effective to use within the classroom because it will allow a student to use the ASL font in order to write and/or read lessons for activities. This site also provides basic history and background on ASL and offers a look into the braille system by providing an interactive look at braille.

Research on American Sign Language

American Sign Language as a Foreign Language is a topic that is currently under much debate. It is a naturally occurring signed language for people who need to use it, but the controversy lies in whether or not it is actually foreign. This page discusses the research on this topic and the fact that there are aspects of learning ASL that are just as hard as learning spoken language.


American Sign Language Linguistic Research Project is a research project being done at Boston University. The main focus of the project is to look at syntactic structure of ASL and the functional categories within it. This page looks at the categories and gives information about them, as well as several links to the publications of results.

Sign Stream is a tool for the analysis of linguistic data captured on video. This site looks at the goals of Sign Stream and goes into detail about how it wants to ultimately develop a database of coded ASL utterances. Each utterance would then have a segment of video to go along with it and a detailed description of the segment to tell what they were doing. It is a way to see children use the words they are intending to use if a person doesn’t have sign language experience.

The University of Delaware published this project about developing a writing tool for native American Sign Language users. There is a lot of research that shows that people who are deaf often have problems with structure and cohesion in their writing, so this would be a way for them to see their mistakes and be able to correct them. The project idea is based around a computer program that would look at the writer’s work and note any errors, and then the person would be able to make corrections with the help from the computer program.


Sign language as a help to learn English is something that is currently being studied by the American Psychological Association. The research shows that knowing ASL first helps children learn English, making them bilingual. The controversy stands in whether or not children should have oral training and written English or oral English and Signed English. Things like grammar and structure are very different between ASL and English, and by knowing both it would open a lot of doors for students using ASL.

Cochlear Implants

Deaf View is an online magazine that provides readers with current information on all sorts of topics related o being deaf. An issue covered in this month’s edition dealt with cochlear implants. Cochlear implants are devices, which can help children and adults who are deaf learn to hear. It discusses how having cochlear implants can be thought of as child abuse. It also discussed issues of educating children about deaf culture and the use of ASL.

Cochlear Implants : This web site is about research done on using cochlear implants. It discusses how implants work, who are good candidates, and why patients might not attain good ear results. Doctors discuss how there has to be a certain number of good ganglion cells to be able to hear better through the implant. But they are not sure if that is the only thing needed to hear well. The research went on to discuss how many channels are needed to be able to achieve certain parts of speech, for instance, vowel recognition needs 8 channels, while sentence recognition only uses 5 channels. The researchers suggest that 5 to 8 channels are necessary for a deaf adult to hear with a cochlear implant.

A Tutorial from Sound to Stimulus: This is a web site that provides an educational way for perspective recipients and their families to earn how to use the cochlear implant. It discusses auditory perception, how the implants work by electrical stimuli and how patients can learn to interpret the electrical stimuli from the implant. There is an in depth discussion of how the ear works, how the cochlear implant works, auditory assessment, strategies of cochlear implant speech processing and speech demos.

Ethical Issues and Cochlear Implants : This web site gives the background on cochlear implants and a history of a research study. The study focused on recipient’s performance on speech perception task. It stated that there are few studies on speech production and abilities to develop phonetic repertoires and intelligible speech. It also describe the ethical issues related to having cochlear implants put into deaf children, mediealization of deafness and oppression of deaf people.

Rehabilitation of Hearing Losses

: This web site is a case presentation. It describes how cochlear implants can be used for the rehabilitation of severe hearing losses. It gives a history of the use of cochlear implants and the recipient. This is followed by a discussion of cochlear implant language processing and other available devices. It describes the recipient’s performance of language and how it helps other people. There is a brief section on perspective candidates, and the implantation of an auditory brain stem implant.



Impact Statements

As I looked for websites related to ASL I realized that it isn’t something that was invented and never changed. There is constant research going on as to how to change it and relate it to other areas of language so that people who are deaf can be better understood and better understand others. Just the sheer quantity of information available on every aspect of ASL was also surprising to me because I was apparently unaware that it was such a popular topic. I have also discovered that it is a very much debated topic, and I will continue to look at the websites my group found to keep myself informed about developments within ASL. 

-Beth Hass


After searching online for different types of Sign Language, I discovered two interesting components of Sign Language that I did not know. For instance, I never realized how speaking the words as one signs them, body language, and facial expression can make such a difference in what the receiver perceives in what the communicator is expressing. Also, it was interesting to see that there are so many different languages of Sign Language. I have only been exposed to American Sign Language in class and experiences, but there are many ways for an individual with a hearing disability to express themselves no matter what country they are from. I assume there are not many similarities between language to language, but multiple Sign Languages can be learned just as Spanish and French to a high school student.
  -Julie Miller

I was always intrigued by sign language, but I was first introduced to sign language one summer five years ago while working at Easter Seals Camp. One of the campers used several different signs to communicate with the rest of us. I later found out that very few people whom he encountered in his daily life actually knew the signs he used, including his family. I found this to be quite upsetting and sad because here was this person trying to communicate with those around him, but unable to do so due to the lack of knowledge of his language by those who surrounded him. From that summer on, my friends and I were determined to learn sign language. Through the years I have been able to pick up on numerous different signs from books, but I still have yet to learn the language and how to use it with others. This project helped me to focus on the importance of sign language in and out of the classroom. Since I will be teaching in special education, I feel that the strategies and information that I found on these websites will help me to better incorporate sign language into my classroom, as well as helping to incorporate it into the general education classroom. Through this project, I have realized the importance of sign language as a language and an important means of communication for many people.

-Lisa Lopina

I have always been interested in American Sign Language, deaf culture and other aspects related to deafness. Last year I did a research article evaluation on cochlear implants. I find this to be an interesting topic because people who are deaf are raised with deaf culture and other aspects of being deaf. When you put an implant into a child who is deaf to make them try to hear when they have never heard before many people consider this to be a violation of ethics and human rights. I think it is really interesting that you can electrically stimulate a deaf persons ear so that they can hear. I learned a lot from the web sites about cochlear implants both positive and negative effects.