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INGEST IEID EYKGW1A2S_HF1MCQ INGEST_TIME 2011-08-09T15:10:15Z PACKAGE AA00002203_00001
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
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MORPHOLOGY AND FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION
OF THE DEAF
SHANNON MAUREEN BRUMFIELD
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Shannon Maureen Brumfield
To my very special friends,
Dr. and Mrs. Fred 0. Brumfield
I would like to express appreciation to all members of my superÂ¬
visory committee for their guidance, suggestions, and support which
made the completion of this study possible. A very special thank you
to my chairman in absentia, Dr. Edward C. Hutchinson, for academic and
moral support during my graduate studies and his thorough guidance of
this study toward its completion. (I would also like to thank Marilin,
his wife, who on several occasions acted as courier in delivering corÂ¬
respondence between Gainesville and North Carolina.) In addition to
the time and effort he so willingly gave to this project, I would like
to thank my cochairman, Dr. Robert J. Scholes, for helping to instill
in me an enthusiasm for research. Appreciation is also extended toward
Dr. Scholes for helping me maintain the necessary momentum to complete
this study with comments such as "I plan to retire when you finish."
I wish to thank Dr. Ira S. Fischler for his contributions and critique
on test design, experimental procedure, and data analysis. His enÂ¬
thusiastic guidance on psychological approaches to memory was invaluable.
Special thanks are extended to the faculty and staff of the
Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, especially to Mr. Joseph P.
Finnegan, Mr. Jerry Prokes, Ms. Pat Westmoreland, Mr. John T. Tiffany,
Mr. Bob Graham, and the entire Jackie Johnson family. I also wish to
thank my panel of raters, Ms. Rose Greenmun, Mr. Edward Grobble,
Ms. Muriel Malloy, Mr. Kenneth D. Randall, and Mr. Robert Thomson.
For their enthusiasm and cooperation I thank the subjects who particiÂ¬
pated in this study.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Mr. Marshall Cohen
for his help with the statistical analyses of this study.
I would also like to thank Mr. James W. Flavin, Office of InstrucÂ¬
tional Resources, University of Florida, for his production of the
presentation film and his instructions on the usage of the video equip-
ment and cameras.
express how much I owe my family, friends, and Mitsouki
for their support
toward the successful completion of this venture.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 1
CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE 3
Theories in Deaf Education 3
Oral vs. Manual Controversy 4
Current Theories 8
Summary of Philosophies in Deaf Education. ... 10
American Sign Language as an Effective Communication
Acquisition of Communication Systems by Normal
and Deaf Children 12
Studies Utilizing Signs for Communication. ... 15
Prose and AMESLAN Communication 16
Summary of American Sign Language as an
Effective Communication System 22
Language Assessment 23
Cognitive Research 24
Linguistic Research 28
Summary of the Review of Language Assessment . . 39
Morphological Assessment 43
Rationale for the Use of Nonsense Syllables. . . 43
Morphological Studies of the Deaf 50
Summary of Morphological Assessment 52
Statement of the Problem 54
CHAPTER III: METHOD AND DESIGN OF THE STUDY 56
Finger Spelling Ability 57
BTT Graphic 58
BTT Manual 58
FC Task 59
Scoring Criterion 60
BTT Graphic and Manual 60
FC Rating 62
CHAPTER V: RESULTS 69
Linguistic Performance on Graphic and Manual BTT . . 69
Correlations Among Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and
the Judged Level of FC Proficiency 70
Demographic Data 71
dB Loss 72
Reading Level 73
Age When Finger Spelling First Acquired 74
First Language in the Home 74
Other Hearing Impaired Family Members 75
Persons at Home Who Can Finger Spell and/or Sign 75
Number of Years of Attendance at FSDB 75
Summary of Results 76
CHAPTER V: SUMMARY OF DISCUSSION 86
Morphological Assessment 86
Graphic and Manual BTT 86
Hierarchy of Errors 87
Nature of the Test Format 90
Error Types 92
Correlations Among Graphic BTT, Manual BTT,
and FC Scores 94
Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC_ Scores 94
Correlations with Reading and Writing 95
Memory for Prose and Cognitive Implications. . . 96
Demographic Assessment 97
Significant Variables 98
Reading Level 98
Age of Learning Finger Spelling 100
dB Loss 100
Age of Subjects 101
First Language in the Home 102
Persons at Home Who Can Finger Spell and/or Sign 102
Other Hearing Impaired Family Members 102
Number of Years of Attendance at FSDB 103
Race and Sex 103
Implications for Further Research 104
Suggestions for Language Assessment 105
APPENDIX A: SUBJECT PROFILE 108
APPENDIX B: FINGER SPELLING TEST 110
STUDENT INSTRUCTIONS 112
PROTOCOL INSTRUCTIONS 113
SCORING SYSTEM 114
APPENDIX C: TEST EXAMPLES 116
ANSWER SHEET 118
APPENDIX D: SIGNS REVIEWED 121
ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 122
APPENDIX E: INSTRUCTIONS 124
STORY PARAGRAPH 125
APPENDIX F: INSTRUCTIONS 127
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SECOND VIEWING 129
FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION EVALUATION SHEET 130
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 138
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
MORPHOLOGY AND FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION
OF THE DEAF
Shannon Maureen Brumfield
Chairman: Edward C. Hutchinson
Major Department: Speech
Cochairman: Robert J. Scholes
Major Department: Speech
This investigation was conducted to obtain information about two
distinct aspects of the communicative ability of the deaf. The first
research question dealt with the ability and extent to which the deaf
are able to utilize and/or understand the syntax of a natural language
(i.e., English). Previous linguistic experiments conducted in the oral
or graphic mediums had raised a question as to whether low linguistic
scores were the result of true ignorance for a task or difficulty with
the testing medium itself.
The functional communicative effectiveness (FC) of the deaf for
conveying specific information when allowed to utilize the preferred
visual-gestural, American Sign Language (AMESLAN) communication method
was also investigated. The second question was to determine the nature
of the relationship between linguistic scores and judged level of FC
Finally, a demographic study was conducted to determine if linÂ¬
guistic performance or FC ratings were related to the variables of
etiology, dB loss in the better ear, first language in the home, other
hearing impaired family members, persons at home who can finger spell
and/or sign, age when finger spelling was first acquired, number of
years at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB), reading level,
IQ, age, race, and sex.
The Berry-Talbott Language Tests I: Comprehension of Grammar (BTT),
a test of morphology, was administered in two distinct testing situations.
One preserved the traditional testing format of graphic presentation and
response. The other presented the same test stimuli in a video taped,
finger spelling and signed English presentation where the subject finger
spelled the response. A paired difference ^-statistic revealed a signifiÂ¬
cant difference in correct responses in favor of the graphic presentation.
For the FC. rating the subject read a simple paragraph which he reÂ¬
told in his preferred manner of communication. This story was video
taped for later scoring by two groups of judges who were fluent in sign
and finger spelling. Performance was rated on a general quality scale
and on the inclusion of specific main and detail items of the story.
Analysis of the Quality Score showed the deaf students to be slightly
below average in their communicative ability.
Graphic BTT scores and Manual BTT scores, and Graphic BTT scores
and FC ratings were highly correlated at the .01 level. Manual BTT
scores and FC^ ratings were not correlated.
Regression models were developed for prediction of the variance
within the dependent variables Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC as a
function of the demographic data. As substantiated in other investigaÂ¬
tions, reading level was the most significant variable for all three
The process of language acquisition is dependent upon many biologiÂ¬
cal and environmental factors. Among the sensory modalities the auditory
form is of prime importance for normal acquisition to occur. Deprivation
of this modality usually has a disastrous effect on language. Even a
cursory comparison of hearing and deaf children reveals the extremely
limited verbal expression of the children deprived of auditory stimulaÂ¬
In a report to the Committee on the Education of the Deaf, Morton
in 1965 stated, in addition to other information, that
1. The average graduate of a public residential school
for the deaf - the closest we have to generally
available "high schools" for the deaf has, in efÂ¬
fect, an eighth grade education.
2. Seniors at Gallaudet College, the nation's only
college for the deaf, rank close to the bottom
in performance on the Graduate Record Exam, (p. 108)
This situation has remained relatively unchanged 12 years later.
Anken and Holmes reported in 1977 that even after years of extensive
education with an overwhelming emphasis on language, the linguistic perÂ¬
formance of the average prelingually deaf adolescent has remained exÂ¬
tremely poor in the areas of reading and written composition.
There have been many hypotheses concerning the poor linguistic
performance by the deaf. Numerous investigations have been conducted
to support these hypotheses and have provided information about factors
such as etiology, early language stimulation and method of classroom
instruction. Additional research has also been conducted to obtain inÂ¬
formation concerning performance on cognitive tasks, specific linguistic
tasks, pertinent qualities of American Sign Language (AMESLAN), as well
as the ability of the deaf to precisely communicate information utilizing
their own visual-gestural (sign language) system of communication.
The present investigation was conducted to obtain information about
two distinct aspects of the communicative ability of deaf adolescents.
The Berry-Talbott Test of Morphological and Derivational Rules (BTT)
(Berry, 1966) was used to compare linguistic skills for specific morÂ¬
phological items which were presented in two separate conditionsâ€”graphic
presentation and manual presentation. The graphic and manual BTT scores
were then compared.
A measure was obtained of the subject's communicative effectiveÂ¬
ness, Functional Communication (FC), for conveying specific information
when allowed to utilize his preferred visual-gestural (AMESLAN) communiÂ¬
cation method. This FC score was compared with both BTT scores. Finally
the two BTT scores and the FC scores were compared to the subject's enÂ¬
vironmental, educational, and medical data.
REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE
Because some correlation between the performance of the deaf and
the hard-of-hearing has been established, pertinent studies with the
latter group are included in the literature review. A review of theories
in deaf education is located in the first section. The second section
contains theories on the validity of AMESLAN as an effective communicaÂ¬
tion system. An examination of the performance by the deaf on language
assessment tasks is the main topic for the third section. Both cogniÂ¬
tive and syntactical tasks and their evaluation procedures are included.
Specific morphological assessments are found in the fourth section.
The rationale and previous usage of the BTT is also reported. Finally
a statement of the problem for this investigation is presented.
Theories in Deaf Education
Debates as to the exact format of deaf education have prevailed
over centuries. On one side there are the educators who take some form
of linguistic viewpoint where it is paramount that the child be exposed
to, and hopefully learn, traditional English. These educators are advoÂ¬
cates of some sort of communication system which preserves traditional
English and syntax. Among this group would be found defenders of the
purely oral school, finger spelling and/or signed English approaches.
(The latter two methodologies are direct mappings of visual clues upon
spoken English.) And among these groups themselves there are disagreeÂ¬
ments as to the best methodology for implementing language.
In contrast some educators feel that it is more important for the
deaf to first acquire any form of communication system. (This would not
necessarily preclude learning traditional English at some later age.) The
group that considers AMESLAN to be the primary language of the deaf advoÂ¬
cates this system of deaf education. The obvious example for their raÂ¬
tionale is the markedly superior communicative ability of deaf children of
deaf parents, who are exposed to an early form of communication as opposed
to the generally inferior communicative abilities of deaf children of hearÂ¬
ing parents, who are usually deprived of such a system. However, this
visual-gestural system has been traditionally, and in many cases still is,
viewed as an inferior communicative system incapable of expressing anyÂ¬
thing but very simple concrete needs. For this reason it has been only reÂ¬
cently that researchers have even considered studying the basic properties
and communicative effectiveness of AMESLAN as a language system. Some iniÂ¬
tial experiments support the traditional view (Schlesinger, 1971) whereas
other investigators have found this communication system more sophisticated
than previously thought (Bellugi & Fischer, 1972; Bode, 1974).
An overview of traditional and contemporary philosophies and the enÂ¬
suing controversies in deaf education is included in this section.
Oral vs. Manual Controversy
There is practically total agreement that the education of the deaf
has been lacking and that plans should be made to augment it. It would
be rare to find someone who opposed earlier diagnosis of the problem
and immediate amplification and extensive language intervention. There
is, however, some controversy as to the exact manner for implementation
of this training.
The debate of Oralism vs. Manualism is practically as old as deaf
education itself. Very generally the oral group believes that instrucÂ¬
tion should be purely oral and emphasizes amplification, training of
residual hearing, and speech reading. The manual group, for the most
part, also believes that everything previously cited is important; howÂ¬
ever, they also emphasize the addition of visual clues to the speech
code either by finger spelling, signing or both.
Arguments for Oralism are strong and impressive. Most of the
world's population do hear; so it is important that the deaf child be
integrated into this society. Signing of any sort is emphatically
discouraged since it is believed that it will contaminate and even preÂ¬
vent speech development. Without signs the deaf child is free to develop
in an unhindered manner the more "natural" mode of speech. Signing is
also discouraged for the additional reason that it is believed to be an
inferior language that will only confuse and confine the natural lanÂ¬
guage development of the child because signs are viewed as too inefficient
a method to allow for the subtleties of normal language.
These arguments are very attractive to the hearing parents of deaf
infants. They offer glowing hope that through constant language stimulaÂ¬
tion someday their child will overcome his handicap and utilize speech
and language like the hearing population. For a very few children this
Manualism has an early history in the United States. The French
Method (signs) was brought to this country by Edward Gallaudet and
Gallaudet College today conducts instruction using signs. While the
Manualists would not deny the child's need to speak and learn traditional
English,they believe that some sort of visual clue will enhance this
process. They contend that the Oralist's emphasis on speech reading
does not give adequate visual information about the language content.
It has been shown by Alterman (1970) that only 20%-40% of English
phonemes are visible on the lips. Lip movements are transient and quite
fine. They therefore place a great strain on visual proficiency and
memory. Pelson and Prather (1974) found that lip reading performance
deteriorated somewhat with age for both normals and hearing impaired.
The performance of both groups was much better for phrases and sentences
than for isolated words. It is often said that the best lip readers
are the ones who have the best knowledge of grammar, a good vocabulary,
and a good ability to guess at ambiguous content.
Speech may be the natural mode of language acquisition for the
hearing child, but if this process is dependent on an intact auditory
feedback loop as Fry (1966) believed, then in the absence or deficit of
this auditory feedback speech may not be the ideal medium for communicaÂ¬
tion by the deaf.
The Manualists are quick to elucidate that today the deaf populaÂ¬
tion differs from the one of 30 years ago. Now almost all of the chilÂ¬
dren are congenitally or prelingually deaf whereas in the 1940's a
little over one-third of the deaf children became so after the acquisiÂ¬
tion of at least some speech and language. Even a little exposure to
language before the onslaught of deafness is of tremendous help in
future language learning.
Much of this debate can be related to the heterogeneity of the
deaf population itself. The etiology of deafness is extremely varied.
Therefore it would not be surprising to discover differences in language
abilities with variations in other variables such as IQ, dB loss, educaÂ¬
tional experience, or anything else.
Now, only about 5% of the population become deaf postlingually
as opposed to around 35% in 1940 (Vernon, 1968). Today rubella, when
contracted by the mother during any state of pregnancy, is one of the
most frequent causes of deafness. The effect of this disease is so inÂ¬
sidious that even if the mother should contact such a mild case that she
is unaware of any pathology, it is not unlikely that the baby will have
a congenital hearing defect.
In a little less than one-half of the cases the etiology of deafÂ¬
ness is unknown. It may exist in isolation but is frequently accompanied
by other disabilities which may be congenital or acquired. There is less
possibility for accompanying anomalies for deaf children with deaf parents
since in these cases the disability is attributed largely to hereditary
In a large survey Schein (1975) discovered that 30% or more deaf
school children had additional disabilities. It has been noted that four
of the five other etiologies commonly associated with deafness are also
associated with congenital brain damage. The damage in these cases may
be very subtle and masked by the overwhelming variable of deafness. ConÂ¬
sequently, with current methods, it is very difficult to detect and deÂ¬
lineate brain damage (Vernon, 1968).
With such a heterogenous population as the deaf it could be inÂ¬
ferred that a methodology which succeeds with one child may not necesÂ¬
sarily be the most advantageous for another child.
At one time the Manualists did not have an adequate reply for the
contention that AMESLAN was a poor and inferior language. At best all
that could be said was that AMESLAN did afford the deaf some medium of
communication. Recent preliminary research has revealed that AMESLAN
is really more sophisticated than previously believed (Bellugi & Fischer,
1972; Cutting & Kavanagh, 1975).
It has also been noted that just as spoken language has certain
phonemes with specific boundaries, signs also possess equivalent restricÂ¬
tions. Signs are a unique combination of three parameters: (a) place,
in relation to body parts, where the sign begins and ends, (b) appearance
of the hand that forms the sign itself, and (c) action of the sign (Kan-
napell, 1974). If any of these parameters are violated then native
signers report seeing the sign as either incorrect, dialectical, or the
equivalent to "slips of the tongue" (Cutting & Kavanagh, 1975). Indeed
it has been observed that the deaf do have their own humor and puns.
There has been much disagreement among the Manualists themselves
as to the best method for implementing the visual clues. Hollis and
Carrier (1975) cited the work of Premack to support the hypothesis that
using a nonspeech mode to implement a set of comprehensive concepts
would make it easier to learn the more functional mode of speech.
Kannapell (1974) thought of AMESLAN as the "mother tongue" and sugÂ¬
gested that current trends in bilingual education be followed in referÂ¬
ence to the deaf. Gallaudet has begun a remedial English program based
on foreign language teaching principles (Goldberg & Bordman, 1975) .
Conversely, Stokoe (1975) presented some difficulties of incorÂ¬
porating AMESLAN with English inflections as follows:
1. A sign may have only 1 meaning in AMESLAN and
several in signed English.
2. Inflections affixed to a sign do not allow
for the irregular English formations for certain
3. Stress is equal and is taught mainly for adverbs;
therefore, the deaf may have no idea that other
derivations can occur as in adjectives. (p. 418)
Others view finger spelling as the ideal visual clue for the deaf
child. Its proponents argue that since it is an exact letter for letter
duplication of spoken English it will give the child an exact knowledge
of his language and preserve traditional grammar. Usually finger spelling
is used for every word that is spoken. However, it may be used, as in
the Soviet Union, for isolated words to help in clarification (Morkovin,
Hoemann (1974)found that the use of finger spelling did favorably
influence the deaf's ability to label pictures. He did caution that it
must be introduced at the beginning of formal education. When it is first
presented the young child does not recognize a word by spelling out each
letter but by the unique hand configurations which compose a particular
word. Some of the arguments against lip reading can also be levelled,
to some degree at least, against finger spelling. The latter is also
fleeting, visually small and somewhat context specific. At the speed
of conversation the precise letter configuration is not reached before
the movement toward the next letter begins (Fisher & Husa, 1973).
The Oralists' objection that finger spelling hinders the developÂ¬
ment of traditional speech has not been proven. Most comparisons of
orally and manually educated deaf children revealed no differences beÂ¬
tween the two groups on speech. Lip reading skills were found to corÂ¬
relate more highly with the amount of residual hearing.
Summary of Philosophies in Deaf Education
A review of philosophies in deaf education has indicated the folÂ¬
1. Advocates of Oral and Manual education agree on such issues as
early diagnosis, immediate amplification, and extensive language interÂ¬
2. The Oralists emphasize oral instruction, auditory training,
and lip reading.
3. The Manualists agree that all activities in the above item
are important; however, they also believe that additional visual clues
are necessary to aid the deaf's acquisition of language.
4. There has been no evidence that signing or finger spelling
hinders the speech of the deaf.
5. There are disagreements among the Manualists themselves as to
the best method for language intervention:
(a) finger spellingâ€”which spells each word as it is simulÂ¬
(b) signed Englishâ€”which is also a direct mapping to the
spoken English except that signs as well as finger spelling are utilized
(c) AMESLANâ€”which is the unique language of the deaf and does
not have the same properties or syntax of spoken traditional English
(d) English as a second languageâ€”which, as an instructional
philosophy, would borrow from current bilingual programs.
6. A nonsense test of morphology utilizing a manual (signed
English) as well as the more traditional graphic mediums for item
presentation and response would:
(a) precisely define points of deviancy
(b) give educators of the deaf insight into their present
and future instructional format by providing evidence for possible modiÂ¬
7. A communicative effectiveness rating (FC) based on the subject's
ability to convey some standard prose in his preferred visual-gestural
(AMESLAN) medium would:
(a) give insight as to the communicative ability level of
the deaf, as well as the effectiveness of AMESLAN itself, to convey
thoughts and ideas
(b) contribute more information in the still relatively unÂ¬
known area of AMESLAN
(c) discern if any correlation on specific linguistic tasks
is related to general communicative effectiveness when utilizing AMESLAN.
American Sign Language as an Effective Communication System
In this communicative approach with the deaf the concern is not so
much with the particular morphemes or syntax of traditional languages
(i.e., English, French, Aztec, Japanese, etc.) but rather with the comÂ¬
municative effectiveness of whatever signalling system is being employed.
The signalling systems under scrutiny in this study are those traditionÂ¬
ally utilized by the deaf such as finger spelling, AMESLAN, lip reading,
gesturing, and signing. It is known that in natural languages, such as
English, a plethora of ideasâ€”ideas such as causality ("Getting hit by
the bat made John cry.")â€”and abstract concepts can be adequately comÂ¬
municated. One of the questions most frequently asked about AMESLAN is
that of its communicative effectiveness when compared to the efficiency
of natural (traditional) languages. Is there a communication deficiency
in this particular signing system even when employed by competent signers?
Another question under investigation is whether performance on traditional
linguistic tasks may give some indication as to the general communicaÂ¬
tive level of a deaf subject when he is allowed free usage of his own
visual-gestural communication system to convey new information.
Acquisition of Communication Systems by Normal and Deaf Children
Around the babbling stage of 4 or 5 months the deaf child's proÂ¬
duction begins to differ from the normal (Menyuk, 1969). The hearing
child, reinforced by hearing his utterances, may amuse himself by conÂ¬
stantly repeating nonsense syllables. Naturally the deaf child lacks
this reinforcement. Even before this difference in production is noÂ¬
ticed there existed an auditory perceptual difference in that the hearÂ¬
ing child has been responding to sounds by localization, discrimination
and increasing sensitivity to intonation and rhythm. An ever increasing
lag develops between the deaf and hearing child. While the hearing
child may begin to produce words from 9 to 12 months, this may not occur
for the deaf child until age 3 or 4.
There is some evidence for a critical period for normal language
acquisition between the ages of 2 to 4 years. It is believed by many
that if the opportunity for development is not presented at this optimal
time then the child may never achieve adult competence and performance
(Lennenberg, 1966). Unfortunately it is not unusual for language stimuÂ¬
lation for deaf children to begin at the time of formal education which
is usually around the age of 6 or 7. Hoemann (1974)noted that the schoÂ¬
lastic performance of those high school deaf students who had a preschool
language program was significantly better than their peers who were deÂ¬
prived of this experience.
Because the deaf population uses gestures instead of speech, it
was once thought, and in some cases still believed, to be a primitive
system which could only be used for expressing basic needs.
Unfortunately a very primitive gesture system is the only means
of communication for some of the deaf. These people are often deaf chilÂ¬
dren of hearing parents and have not been exposed to other deaf people.
Even though some signs seem to be universalâ€”as in pointing to the mouth
for "hungry" or "food"â€”this deaf person, for lack of other stimuli,
develops his own idiosyncratic gesture system.
Some deaf individuals may develop a more regulated systemâ€”due in
part to their environment. In schools for the deaf it is well known that
the children do in fact sign when the faculty are not watching. Later
if they become affiliated with other members of the deaf community their
signing becomes more regulated in that certain signs are accepted and
used by everyone for a particular word or concept. These people establish
a fairly consistent means of gestural communication.
As Bellugi and Fischer(1972) have noted, there are several features
all sign languages have in common. These consistencies are undoubtedly
due to (a) the mediums employedâ€”hands, space, and body, and (b) the
time involved to make message units shorter but still unambiguous.
The above authors found that although it took longer to sign a
particular word than to say it, the time it took to say a sentence and
to sign it was nearly equal. Research so far has yielded the following
adjustments which all signers instinctively utilize: (a) "doing without"
or the exclusion of words which do not hinder the intent of a statement
such as the copula, articles, inflections, and some prepositions, (b)
"incorporation" or a slight variance of a sign which may be utilized to
indicate orientation, pronominalization, number, manner, size, and
shape, and (c) bodily or facial shifts.
Not surprisingly the above three signing universals are elements
that have and still do lead people to believe that signing is a very
Deaf children of deaf parents have consistently performed better
than deaf children of hearing parents. For the former their sign vocabuÂ¬
lary naturally appears a little earlier than words in the hearing child
(Stokoe, 1975). This sign vocabulary grows at the same rate as a speech
One of the reasons for this parallel acquisition, at least in the
rather early stages thus far investigated, could be the early intervenÂ¬
tion on the part of the deaf parents with a communication system which
the child could employ in much the same manner that the hearing child
employs speech. Therefore, the critical language period is not wasted.
It has been suggested that perhaps the deaf follow the same stages of
acquisition of certain language "universals"â€”as in the use of negation
and overgeneralizationâ€”as their hearing peers. Bellugi and Fischer
(1972) also reported that the deaf children appear to experience the
signing equivalent to infantile baby talk.
Research in the development of AMESLAN in children and the studies
of the properties of AMESLAN itself are still very meager and there is
a current debate as to the validity of AMESLAN as a language system.
Studies Utilizing Signs for Communication
Schlesinger (1971) performed an experiment in which his deaf subÂ¬
jects were encouraged to sign. Results indicated that even when perÂ¬
mitted to utilize their gestural-visual modalities these deaf subjects
were unable to communicate to each other the relationship among agent,
direct object, and indirect object from among a set of picture cards
permitting all possible mutations of these three roles.
Because of these results it has been hypothesized that since the
deaf fail on certain tasks of syntactic ability, even in cases where
they are permitted to use their own gestural communication, that (a) they
lack the means of expressing certain relationships and/or (b) they are
totally unaware of these relationships.
The implication of the first hypothesis naturally is that gestural
communication is an inferior language because of its inability to exÂ¬
press more complex and abstract relationships. Many people oppose signs
for this very reason. It is felt that exposure to signs is contaminatÂ¬
ing in that it binds the signer to the concrete and does not allow the
enrichments afforded by traditional language such as abstraction, perÂ¬
sonification, and humor . There is, however, anecdotal evidence of a cerÂ¬
tain type of humor typical of the deaf and therefore named "deaf humor,"
but no standard procedures have investigated this aspect of AMESLAN.
One implication of the second hypothesis is an inability for the
cognitive processes of the deaf to proceed beyond a very elementary level.
The syntactic structure under investigation in the previously cited
Schlesinger experiment was the direct and indirect object, and the
underlying relationship was a rather simple one occurring frequently
in daily life.
Bode (1974) replicated this experiment with one important differÂ¬
ence. The deaf subjects were matched on environmental and cultural
factors. With this variable constant her subjects had little difficulty
differentiating their partner's signed message for the appropriate direct
and indirect object from among a set of ambiguous pictures. These deaf
subjects not only knew about the relationship of this concept but could
successfully communicate it to others.
Prose and AMESLAN Communication
Previous investigators have analyzed the deaf's ability to comÂ¬
municate words and specific sentence structures in AMESLAN. No "formalÂ¬
ized" analysis has been made of the deaf's ability to utilize AMESLAN
to effectively communicate prose. Usage of "formalized" in this instance
is the requirement to communicate items of a specific paragraph, and not
the mere retelling of a story or event with which the subject is already
Since we are interested in the communication effectiveness of whatÂ¬
ever signalling system is utilized, the Semantic Observational Approach
(for rating FC) would be the method to employ. This approach has two
main principles: (a) a reality principleâ€”which is concerned with the
ideas themselves, and (b) a cooperative principleâ€”which is concerned
with the way these ideas are expressed. These principles must also be
judged in a thematic structure; that is, the communicator must know
what information the listener needs to know and keep the conversation
pertinent to the desired goal or issue of the subject (Clark & Clark,
Chapter 2, 1977).
Memory is a vital component for prose recall and consequent comÂ¬
munication to others. The performance of normals on certain tasks of
memory is briefly reviewed here; and it will be assumed from the data
of previous experiments (see section three, Cognitive Research) that
the cognitive processes of the deaf for semantic organization are comÂ¬
parable to those of normals.
In a paragraph recall situation, memory (input, storage, output)
and linguistic ability are main factors. Because stories and paragraphs
are lengthy, very few experiments have been conducted on any subjects.
Most of the prose recall by normals is inferred from investigations
which can study memory in a more direct manner. These studies would inÂ¬
clude investigations with words, letters, constituents, and sentences
for Short or Long Term Memory.
Clark and Clark (Chapter 4, 1977) cited the following as some of
the crucial factors which determine memory for prose:
1. Type of Languageâ€”as in a lecture, story, poem, or
unrelated sentences of a psychological experiment
2. Inputâ€”as in cases of hearing or reading the maÂ¬
terial and the specific instructions as to what
to retain, for example word for word memorization,
general meaning of the passage, or notation of
particular features as in grammatical errors
3. Retention Intervalâ€”as in delayed or immediate reÂ¬
call of the material
4. Outputâ€”as in cases where verbatim, or general
idea, or judgmements of wheth r a test sentence
was present in the original form. (p. 133)
Certain biases are evident in constructing sentences from memory:
1. input of information not actually in the sentence
2. tendency towards simple (unmarked) syntax
3. strong preference in English for the subject to
appear in the initial position
4. preference for the affirmative over the negative
5. with 2 clauses, a preference to describe the
events in order of their actual occurrence.(Clark &
Clark, Chapter 4, 1977)
The kind and amount of information remembered depends critically
on the study strategies people use. This can be seen by the different
performances of people who are given the same test but presented with
There are other general implications evident in memory recall tasks
1. to obtain meaning rather than word for word retention
2. a tendency to draw the obvious conclusion
3. a reliance on world knowledge in conformity with
the reality principle
4. a tendency to use referentsâ€”attempts to integrate
new information with what is already known
5. a tendency towards utilizing indirect meaning where
the listener tries to build the interpretations he
thinks he was meant to build
6. a tendency towards the creation of global repreÂ¬
sentations where with each new sentence people
create new representations unrelated to any single
sentence. (Clark & Clark, Chapter 4, 1977)
As linguistic ability is one of the two essential features of prose
recall, it is very important to remember this paramount feature when
choosing a recall passage for any population. Naturally the choice will
depend upon the particular research question being posed. For example,
since one of the questions of this investigation, the ability of AMESLAN
to effectively communicate new ideas, communication rather than linguistic
competence is the major issue. Therefore the prose passage for this study
is syntactically relatively simple.
Research conducted by Odom and Blanton (1967) indicated that synÂ¬
tactic order did not facilitate memory recall by hearing impaired stuÂ¬
dents as it did for the hearing. The syntactically ordered stimuli
presented in their paired associate paradigm consisted of (a) partial
sentences [Verb (V)] phrases or partial [noun (N)] and V phrases and
(b) fragments [partial noun phrases (NP) and partial verb phrase (VP)].
Other stimuli were asyntactically ordered.
Further research on the effect of syntactic order on recall perÂ¬
formance by the deaf and hearing was conducted by Tomblin (1977). HowÂ¬
ever, he changed his experimental paradigm from that of Odom and Blanton.
He studied immediate recall rather than recall from a paired associate
task which required a longer retention period. The stimuli consisted of
subject-verb-object (S-V-O) strings of 4, 6, and 8 words in length.
[Research has shown that both normals (Clark & Clark, Chapter 4, 1977)
and especially the deaf (see section three, Linguistic Research) are
biased toward this syntactical strategy.] The same words that appeared
for the ordered stimuli were recast in an asyntactical manner to form
the random ordered group. Although the hearing impaired group did perÂ¬
form less accurately under both conditions when compared with their hearÂ¬
ing peers, analysis revealed a decided preference among both groups
for the ordered sentences.
Tomblin regarded recall facilitated by syntax for his deaf subÂ¬
jectsâ€”as opposed to the opposite findings of Odom and Blantonâ€”as
being attributed to the following features: (a) reliance on Short
rather than Long Term Memory and (b) stimuli material which utilized
the deaf's predisposition to assign the S-V-0 strategy to all phases
There have been several investigations of prose recall itself.
Walter Kintsch (1977) proposed a hierarchical theory of content represenÂ¬
tation in texts (or the amount of meaning which might be computed to
phrases within a given passage).
He admitted that his theory was too general and too incomplete.
No processing models were given. However it does afford the researcher
some rather systematized manner in order that the investigation for
meaning for texts can become the subject of experimental design.
Usage of a hierarchical memory model is not unique. Collins and
Quillian (1969) used it in application to words. For example, the presenÂ¬
tation of one word as in "canary" would most readily activate the next
higher category (in this case "bird") of which it is a member.
Kintsch's theory is based on the hypothesis that text bases are
structured hierarchically by a repetition rule. This rule refers to
the idea that given a set of propositions one (or more) is designated,
rather arbitrarily at this time by the experimenter, as the topical or
thematic element(s). This rule would thereby specify which propositions
are connected to other propositions, thus constituting levels of a
hierarchy. The thematic proposition is at the top of the hierarchy.
For example, in a story about airplane pilots and their many jobs the
sentence "Airplane pilots have many important jobs" could be considered
thematic. Subordinate to this level would be all properties that share
an agreement with the first (thematic) level proposition. To continue
with the above example some second (superordinate) level propositions
would be: "transportation between cities," "rescues," and "dropping
food." A third (subordinate) level of propositions may be determined
by selecting those elements which share agreement with any of the secÂ¬
ondary level propositions but not with a first level proposition. [ConÂ¬
tinuing with the example, the phrases "of people," "of freight," and
"of mail" would all three be third (subordinate) level propositions of
the second (superordinate) level proposition "transportation."] Kintsch
noted that as with the thematic proposition(s) the superordinate proposiÂ¬
tions are chosen intuitively.
Kintsch was interested in evaluating his theory and chose reading
rate and test structure as dependent variables for his experiment since
one of the implications of his hierarchical theory was that the number
of propositions should have predictable psychological effects. His exÂ¬
periments with the number and type of propositions as well as syntactical
complexity was related to reading time and the number and type of proposiÂ¬
tions recalled. A summary of the results from his experiments tend to
give validity to his theory.
1. Reading time can be expressed as a linear function
of the number of propositions processed during
reading and the length of the text.
2. Time per proposition is variable (.5 sec. for
short historical narratives - 4 sec. for the
longest psychological definition). The longest
paragraph has only been 60 words.
3. The manner which the subjects process a test is
related to the structural relationship among the
propositions. Many-different-arguments require
longer reading time than few-different-arguments;
however the number of propositions recalled for
both text types is the same.
4. Superordinates are defined the best; and as the
level of propositions descends so does recall.
5. Superordinates were better recalled regardless
of their surface structure or serial position.
6. A primacy effect was observed for the superÂ¬
7. No primacy effect was shown for the subordinates.
8. No recency effect was noted for both the superÂ¬
ordinates and the subordinates.(Kintsch, Chapter 4,
No investigations similar to the ones above have been conducted
with the deaf for either communicative or cognitive information.
Summary of American Sign Language as an Effective Communication System
A review of American Sign Language as an effective communicative
system has revealed the following:
1. At one time signs were only viewed as a very primitive method
to make known basic wants and needs.
2. Recent research has indicated that sign language does have
certain consistent features which would imply that it is a more sophisti
cated communication method than previously thought. Naturally more reÂ¬
search as to the exact properties involved is needed.
3. Deaf children of deaf parents have an advantage over their
peers of hearing parents in that the former are given a communication
system at once during the very early years which some authors believe
critical for more sophisticated language acquisition.
4. Deaf children of deaf parents display similar stages of inÂ¬
fantile communication in signs as hearing children do for speech acquisi
tion. More exacting research is needed in this area.
5. It has been shown that deaf children of deaf parents have an
advantage in traditional language learning than deaf children of hearing
parents. More research is needed to determine if this traditional lanÂ¬
guage advantage persists for older deaf adolescents for more complex
6. There is a great controversy as to the validity of AMESLAN
as a communication system and its ability to adequately communicate
abstract thoughts, concepts, or basic relationships. Again, more reÂ¬
search is needed.
7. Because of the specific properties of AMESLAN, the ability of
the deaf to communicate concepts and ideas in their visual-gestural mode
has been questioned; therefore, a rating of the deafâ€™s ability to comÂ¬
municate in their preferred medium (AMESLAN) some standard paragraph
(a) give additional information to this debated question
(b) help ascertain if performance on specific linguistic
items is a reflection of general communicative abilities
(c) contribute information into the relatively unknown area
of the deaf's cognitive processing for memory for prose when test design
and recall ratings similar to Kintsch's theory are utilized and results
compared with his preliminary experimental findings for hearing subjects.
In this section the communicative ability of the deaf is viewed
in the more traditional linguistic methods of English. The question
here is not one of communicative effectiveness, but rather the ability
and extent to which the deaf are able to utilize and/or understand the
syntax of a natural language. To what extent and in what ways does the
syntax of the deaf differ from that of a hearing child acquiring English?
Educators of the deaf who have continually attempted, albeit for the
most part unsuccessfully, to teach English from infancy through young
adulthood are particularly interested in the specific results of syntacÂ¬
tic studies. It would be invaluable to know if one testing procedure,
as opposed to another, would be more indicative of the deaf's true linÂ¬
guistic ability. It would be equally enlightening to discover if specific
linguistic skills were related in anyway to the overall communicative
effectiveness in situations where AMESLAN is used. Language was first
assessed indirectly through cognitive tasks. Later studies of specific
syntactic structures were begun. Both cognitive and specific syntactic
research are presented in this section.
People have traditionally assumed that speech, language, and
thought were associated with each other. Speech and language have alÂ¬
ways been considered as primary factors for placing humans in a rather
special category apart from other animals. Speech is acquired by pracÂ¬
tically everyone and proceeds along fairly consistent stages with little
geographical or cultural variation. Speech was considered the outward
manifestation of the presence of language. Language in turn was viewed
as necessary for performing the mediating processes necessary for thought.
Speech and language acquisition are so unique that it caused the
Ancients to view it as a direct gift from the gods. Therefore any event
which might disrupt acquisition or interfere with language already
acquired was interpreted as an act of the gods. Hence, any intervention
for the specific purpose of teaching language was not even considered.
As time passed speech and language were no longer thought of as
gifts from the gods. However, the belief remained that the absence of
any outward manifestation of language, that is,speech, preempted any
ability to think or reason. An archaic Spanish rule specified that deaf
children who did not speak were not entitled to inherit the lands of
their parents. (Naturally these parents invested a great deal of time
and effort so that their deaf child could utter a few words and thus
circumvent the law.)
Remnants of the association of speech, language, and thought remain
today as in the usage of such expressions as "deaf and dumb." Speech
pathologists report that questions often arise as to the extent of the
cognitive ability of a speechless individual.
Cutting and Kavanagh (1975) presented a good framework for viewing
speech and language which were seen as "a model of separate entities
in a symbiotic partnership performing similar functions towards similar
ends but at different levels" (p. 503). Caution was offered about the
danger of forgetting the interrelated functions of these two systems.
However, according to their theory speech works upward in the communicaÂ¬
tion chain to constrain and alter language while language descends in
the opposite direction to alter speech, the vocal tract, and perhaps
Several intuitive and logical arguments were proposed for this
separation: (a) comparison of the rules of phonology with those of
syntax and semantics, (b) comparison of the development of speech in
man and in the child, and (c) comparison of sign language to speech.
It was concluded that it was possible to have speech without language
(as in fluent aphasics and babbling infants) and language without speech
(as in oral apraxia).
However, there were several different opinions as to possible
entries for the category of language without speech. Would it be acÂ¬
ceptable to place the chimpanzees who use signs or symbols in this cateÂ¬
gory? As for the deaf, Furth's book, Thinking Without Language (1966),
was evidence for the position whereas Bellugi and Klima's book, The
Signs of Language (in press) was evidence for another position.
However, the absence of speech does not necessarily presuppose the
absence of language and/or thought. Because of the heterogeneity of the
deaf, language assessment has always been difficult. Therefore one
popular method has been to relate language to cognition and concept
formation and then evaluate performance on language free tasks.
Perhaps the most prolific writer in this field has been Hans Furth.
He summarized his results (1966) for the performance of deaf children
on certain Piagetian tasks and concluded that their performance was esÂ¬
sentially the same as that of hearing children. Thus, at least for the
ages and concepts evaluated, the linguistically incompetent deaf performed
cognitive tasks on a par with their hearing peers.
His results are not without contradiction, but Furth attributes
the poorer performance by the deaf in these studies to the influence of
environmental factors and/or test design. In fact, the detrimental efÂ¬
fects of institutionalization on the deaf's performance for some of
these tasks have been reported (Raviv, Sharan, & Strauss, 1973).
In a review of all studies conducted with deaf and hearing children,
Furth (1971) attempted to isolate the effects of linguistic deficiency.
Areas were grouped according to (a) rule learning, (b) logical symbols,
(c) Piagetian tasks, (d) memory, and (e) perception. He concluded that
a single specific cognitive area cannot be designated where the deaf perÂ¬
form poorer than the hearing controls. Some areas where the younger
deaf were initially poorer were located but they improved with maturaÂ¬
tion and finally equalled the performance with their hearing peers.
The specific tasks must be considered when interpreting the
above data. Sinclair-De-Zwart (1969) did find syntactic ability corÂ¬
related with the Piagetian conservation task. This result was in opposiÂ¬
tion to that of Furth whose task was more elementary. Goodnow (1969)
cautioned that "type of thought" and "strength or stability of thought"
should be considered in that it is important to test familiar, signifiÂ¬
cant material to determine what the child can do, but it is equally
important to discover if the response is merely a replication of past
experience rather than an extension of experience.
Few studies have tried to assess semantic organization through
language. Tweney and Hoemann (1973) chose to ascertain the development
of semantic associations in profoundly deaf children with regard to the
syntagmatic-paradigmatic shift. Noun, verb, and adjective associations
were presented by signs to the deaf. This very age related shift has
been found to occur in hearing children between the ages of 5 and 7.
Results indicated that a consistent and regular shift to paradigmatic
responses could be observed in the deaf but these responses were less
advanced than those for the hearing controls. The authors suggested
that for the deaf these deficits were quantitative rather than qualitative.
Tweney, Hoemann, and Andrews (1975) also studied semantic organizaÂ¬
tion through the clustering of nouns by deaf and hearing subjects. When
the stimuli were equally familiar to both groups no differences in clusÂ¬
terings were found.
It appears, then, that for the relatively elementary types of cogniÂ¬
tive tasks thus far investigated the performance of deaf children is
similar, although at times less advanced, when compared to that of their
Recently researchers have investigated the performance of the deaf
on specific syntactical items. These investigations, which focused on
structures, revealed more descriptive and quantitative information about
the actual linguistic performance of the deaf subject than the language-
free cognitive tasks.
Pertinent studies of the hard-of-hearing are included in this secÂ¬
tion since their performance reflects many of the same difficulties of
the deaf. Depending upon the specific task, an analysis of the language
of normal, hard-of-hearing and deaf children usually reveals an approxiÂ¬
mation by the hard-of-hearing group to that of the normals and a very
limited and retarded performance by the deaf. However, with certain
more sophisticated syntactic structures, the hard-of-hearing perform
very similarly to the deaf. Sometimes this difficulty is only revealed
through tests explicitly designed to assess performance on a particular
construction. It is not because these deficient areas are unimportant
that they remain unnoticed, but rather the hard-of-hearing child may
succeed and function adequately in spite of them. In contrast the
deficiencies of the child are quite apparent. On many tasks his perÂ¬
formance is limited, absent, or indicative of immature and/or deviant
Brannon (1968) compared the spoken output of normal, hard-of-hearing,
and deaf children according to a linguistic word class system devised
by Jones, Goodman, and Wepman (1963). Fifty spoken responses to pictures
were recorded from each with the hearing impaired having an additional
response form so that they could write each response as they said it.
These responses were then classified into 14 distinct grammatical classes.
The differences in basic vocabulary were great with the normals having
a vocabulary of 10,876 words and the hard-of-hearing and deaf having
vocabularies of 4,440 and 3,256 words respectively.
An analysis according to word category revealed that the hard-of-
hearing, although definitely limited, were not significantly different
from the normals. There was a tendency for the hard-of-hearing to be
deficient in adverbs, pronouns, and auxiliaries. In comparison the deaf
were deficient in these categories as well as in all of the remaining
ones. Overusage of nouns and articles was noted for both hearing imÂ¬
These results were consistent with those of a previous study
(Brannon & Murry, 1966) which utilized the same testing procedures but
analyzed the sentences according to categories suggested by Myklebust
(1964). Sentences were then scored as to (a) additions, (b) omissions,
(c) word substitutions, and (d) word order. This procedure revealed
the tendency of the hard-of-hearing and especially the deaf to utilize
simple S-V-0 sentence order.
In order to determine a hierarchy for graphic, phonetic, and asÂ¬
sociative characteristics in response selection Blanton, Nunnally, and
Odom (1967) compared the performance of deaf and hearing students on
three types of word association tasks which consisted of associative,
rhyming, and graphemic similarities.
Both groups had the same order of preference: associated, graphemi-
cally similar, and rhyming pairs. These results led the authors to hyÂ¬
pothesize that the hearing and deaf subjects were using the same processes.
The deaf did indicate a greater tendency to associate words on the basis
of their graphemic similarity, but this did not hinder their ability to
respond on the basis of other relationships.
Although hearing, hard-of-hearing, and deaf children may use the
same strategies on paired word association tasks, the actual spoken and
written vocabulary of the three groups was clearly distinguishable no
matter what categorization or scoring method was employed. The hard-
of-hearing performance shadowed that of normals but showed deficiencies
in the usage of adverbs, pronouns, auxilaries, and a tendency to overÂ¬
use simple Sâ€”Vâ€”0 order in sentences. These same characteristics, but
in a far more pronounced degree, were also observed for the deaf.
Rather than investigating mere word count and/or category differÂ¬
ences, other researchers have examined the usage of specific construcÂ¬
tions in the sentence unit considered as a whole.
Wilcox and Tobin (1974) investigated the linguistic performance
of hard-of-hearing and hearing children on certain verb constructions.
Preliminary investigations had revealed that the subjects, who were apÂ¬
proximately 11 years old, had already mastered the simpler constructions
of negation, question formation, and past tense. The following verb
constructions were considered: present tense, the auxiliaries (be+ing,
have+en, will), passive, and negative passive.
There were two sets each of which contained six sentences which
were constructed and used under the following three experimental condiÂ¬
tions: (a) repetition with visual stimuli, (b) recall where the picÂ¬
ture was shown and the appropriate sentence was required, and (c) repetiÂ¬
tion without visual stimuli. Both groups had more difficulty with the
recall task. The performance of the hearing impaired group shadowed that
of the normals on all constructions with the exception of the auxiliary
have+en and the negative passive.
The authors interpreted the results as indicating that the hard-
of-hearing performance differed in degree rather than kind. They cited
the findings of Menyuk (1969) for hearing children from 3 to 7 years of
age. The percentage correct for these children was practically the same
as that achieved by Wilcox and Tobin's older but hard-of-hearing children.
Wilcox & Tobin
Quigley and Power (1973) gave three types of passive sentences to
a group of deaf children ranging in age from 9 to 18 years. Reversable,
non-reversable, and agent deleted reversable passives were evaluated.
The subjects were required to move toys representing the subject and obÂ¬
ject of the sentence. For the production task an incomplete sentence
naming the subject and object was presented under a picture. The subÂ¬
jects were asked what happened, and they responded using one or more of
a set of provided words. Some of the words employed were: was, Verb-ed,
by, Verb-ing, and did.
Differences in performance and comprehension were seen as a funcÂ¬
tion of age. A hierarchy of difficulty appeared which from least to most
difficult was: nonreversable passives, reversable passives, and agent
deleted passives. Practically all of the hearing had mastered the compreÂ¬
hension and production of the passive by age 8 whereas this was not the
case for the deaf even at the ages of 17 or 18. None of the older deaf
adolescents met the 75% (items correct) passing criterion for each strucÂ¬
ture. The average correct scores for the older deaf adolescents were:
65% for nonreversable passives, 60% for reversable passives, and 35%
for agent deleted passives.
It seemed apparent that the deaf often only used "by" of the agent
as a marker for the passive. This strategy coupled with the deaf's overÂ¬
use of S-V-0 word order for sentence comprehension could cause them a
great deal of confusion especially in reading. Hearing 3 year olds have
interpreted passives in this manner.
For correct interpretation of indirect and direct objects younger
children rely solely on the marker "to" as in "He gave the flowers _t()
the girl." Older children however can differentiate direct and indirect
objects by other strategies. Sentence ambiguity may also be clarified
by: (a) insertion of an article ("They fed her dog the candies" or "They
fed her the dog candies") and (b) appropriate disjuncture as in a pause
Scholes, Tanis, and Anderson (1976) presented a picture verificaÂ¬
tion task in order to ascertain the comprehension by hard-of-hearing
children for direct and indirect objects in sentences. These students
were attending classes in regular public schools and ranged in age from
9.5 - 19.4 years. Subjects were shown a series of slides with each
slide containing four pictures. These pictures included: (a) a "B
Reading" where the article was inserted before the last two nominal eleÂ¬
ments as in "They . . . the dog candies" thus rendering the entire unit
as the indirect object; (b) an "A Reading" with the insertion of the
article before the last nominal as in "They . . . the candies" thus
rendering a single word as the indirect object; and (c) two other ranÂ¬
domly selected pictures from other test sentences which bore no reÂ¬
semblance to the lexical items mentioned in the sentence to be evaluated.
Subjects were presented 10 unambiguous and 5 ambiguous sentences.
"They fed her dog candies" is an example of one of the ambiguous senÂ¬
tences. The test sentences were presented both orally and graphically
as well as a simultaneous presentation of the slide pictures. The subÂ¬
ject pointed to the picture number which corresponded to the sentence.
Lexical errors, the selection of unrelated pictures to sentences,
were practically nonexistent. However, the average 14.5 year old hard-
of-hearing student correctly comprehended only 59% of the unambiguous
sentences. These results were comparable to the comprehension of a hearÂ¬
ing 5 year old. By the age of 13 hearing children correctly comprehended
91% of these unambiguous sentences.
The authors noted that for the ambiguous sentences there was a
preference for the B Readings by both the hearing and hard-of-hearing
groups. This preference increased with age but was not present in colÂ¬
lege subjects. This discovery was interpreted to represent a changing
bias toward one or more developing comprehensional strategies. For the
most part this bias would be non-1inguistic in that it would favor the
more probable or "most likely" meaning of a sentence.
Scholes, Cohen, and Brumfield (in press) administered a similar task
to 234 deaf students in grades 8 - 12 in a residential school for the deaf.
The similarity of the deaf's performance to that of the public school,
hard-of-hearing students is quite remarkable. The deaf comprehended 60%
of the unambiguous sentences. For the ambiguous sentences there was
again a preference for the B Reading form. This might suggest that the
deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing shared a comprehensional strategy bias.
Quigley and Power (1972) began the development of a Test of SyntacÂ¬
tic Abilities (TSA) as part of a total research program to evaluate comÂ¬
prehension and production for the following areas: (a) determiners, (b)
negation, (c) question formation, (d) pronominalization, (e) reflexiviza-
tion, (f) the verb system, (g) conjunction, (h) complementation, and (i)
relativization. Subtests for nominalization and several aspects of comÂ¬
plementation were omitted from the final version of the TSA because the
authors reported little understanding of their usage by 18 and 19 year
old deaf students even after extensive pretesting. For each structure
under investigation the subtests of the TSA contained written items where
the subject was required to make judgments as to the correct meaning of the
stimulus sentences and/or determine the grammaticalness of the stimulus
sentence and correct it when necessary. The following are two examples:
The girl who hit the boy went
The girl hit the boy.
The boy hit the girl.
The boy went home.
The girl went home.
(Quigley, Smith, & Wilbur, 1974, p. 328)
1â€¢ The girl who the girl found the ball played in the park.
Check ONE box. The sentence is:
Right Go to 2.
Wrong Change the sentence to make it RIGHT.
Write the right sentence here
(Quigley, Smith, & Wilbur, 1974, p. 329)
Utilizing a subtest of the TSA Quigley, Wilbur, and Montanelli
(1974) investigated question formation by the deaf. Results indicated
increasing improvement for the deaf with age. However even the youngest
hearing subject in the third grade consistently obtained higher scores
than the majority of the older deaf subjects. A response hierarchy did
appear for both groups with the best comprehension for yes/no questions
followed by Wh- questions. Tag questions proved to be the most diffiÂ¬
Quigley, Smith, and Wilbur (1974) again employed subtests of the
TSA to study relativized sentences in the deaf. The clauses were classiÂ¬
fied according to: (a) placement [final (F) or medial (M)] and (b) funcÂ¬
tion of the relative pronoun (subject or object, with or without a proÂ¬
Results of the processing test again demonstrated a marked supeÂ¬
riority by the 10 year old hearing subjects (83% correct) when compared
with the 18 year old deaf subjects (76% correct). For both groups a
hierarchy of difficulty existed with the easiest pronoun for both groups
dependent on its position in the embedded clause. Beginning with the
most difficult the following order was observed: (a) object-pronoun
clause, M position, (b) subject-pronoun clause, M position, (c) subject-
pronoun clause, F position, and (d) object-pronoun clause, F position.
The deaf showed more improvement with age for the final position with
91% correct at age 19 as compared with only 45% correct at age 10. HowÂ¬
ever, increased performance with age was not witnessed for the medial
position which revealed 56% correct at age 19. This latter score is
similar to the 10 year old hearing subjects' responses of 68% correct
for the medial position.
When presented with embedded sentences the deaf frequently inapÂ¬
propriately deleted the noun phrase in the following manner: "The dog
chased the girl had on a red dress." The deaf showed particular difÂ¬
ficulty with the possessive. Older groups did accept the proper form
of possession "whose" in a relative clause, and they also recognized
as incorrect sentences where the possessive was required but was not
present. However, they were also unable to recognize as incorrect senÂ¬
tences with the possessive form noun phrase where "whose" was required,
such as, "I helped the boy's mother was sick."
A study by Davis and Blasdell (1975) revealed that the hard-of-
hearing also had difficulty with relative clauses. The purpose of the
investigation was to ascertain certain perceptual strategies of hearing
and hard-of-hearing children aged 6-9 years. Sentence stimuli of the
following form were read to the children:
The man who chased the sheep cut the grass.
NI VI N2 V2 N3
The children pointed to the appropriate picture from among a choice of
four which were designed by the experimenters for the following four
possible perceptual strategies:
1. N1 V2 N3 (The man cut the grass). This involved
comprehension of at least 1 and probably both
sentences underlying the main sentence.
2. NI VI N2 (The man chased the sheep). This involved
comprehension of only 1 underlying strategyâ€”S-V-O.
3. N2 V2 N3 (The sheep ate the grass). This response
indicated a failure to comprehend either of the 2
4. N2 VI N1 (The sheep chased the man). This response
reflected a failure to comprehend either of the
2 base sentences and could have resulted from the
use of 0 - 2 lexical items as a basis for compreÂ¬
hension. (p. 285)
Results indicated a quantative and qualitative difference in the scores
of the two groups. Although both groups placed more emphasis on making
the first noun the subject, this was more often true for the hearing
group (92%) than for the hard-of-hearing group (74%). Among the latter
group there was also a marked tendency to use the confused strategy
(N2 V2 N3) of taking the object of the relative clause and making it the
subject and using the verb and noun immediately following it as the main
verb and object. This type of response persisted in spite of the fact
that it necessitated the acceptance of a verb that did not appear in the
This acceptance of a totally new verb is important in that it inÂ¬
dicated an overwhelming tendency of the hearing impaired toward this type
of strategy. In the Quigley, Smith, and Wilbur (1974) experiment the
required responses were yes/no to several written sentences to determine
the correct perception of the stimulus sentence. The deaf might easily
interpret in his sentences the N2 of the embedded clause as the "logical"
subject of V2. The following sentence provides an example from one of
Quigley's stimulus sentences and a possible interpretation of the deaf.
The girl who hit the boy went home.
NI VI N2 V2 N3
However, the overwhelming preference for an N2 V2 N3 strategy is not as
obvious in the above example because, unlike the Davis and Blasdell
study, there is no need to accept a new verb. "The boy went home" is
more likely to occur than "The sheep cut the grass."
Wilbur, Quigley, and Montanelli (1975) administered appropriate
subtests of the TSA to investigate the deaf's performance on conjoined
sentences. Results indicated that production of conjoined sentences
was more difficult than judgments of grammaticalness. For the deaf
subjects conjoined subjects were easiest followed by conjoined objects
and conjoined verb phrases. The general pattern of development again
seemed to shadow that of the hearing subjects. However some syntactic
deviations were found to be peculiar to the deaf and resistant to imÂ¬
provement with age. It appeared that the deaf had not mastered a rule
of conjunction in which the subjects of the two sentences must serve the
same function. In the following two sentences, "The boy kicked the
cat" and "The cat ran away," it seemed to many of the deaf that it was
the boy who ran away.
To ascertain the deaf's performance on verb inflections and auxilÂ¬
iaries Quigley, Montanelli, and Wilbur (1976) compared the performance
of deaf students of ages 10 - 19 years with that of hearing students with
an age range of 8 - 10 years on the following aspects of the verb system:
auxiliary verbs, tense sequencing, verb deletion, and the confusion of
"be" and "have." The appropriate subtests of TSA were employed.
Results revealed the extreme difficulty that deaf students had with
verb agreement and the extreme age differences for correct performance
by the hearing and deaf. Although some improvement was seen with age,
even the oldest deaf subjects performed at a significantly lower level
than the 10 year old hearing subjects. A hierarchy of difficulty for
tense could be observed which from least to most difficult was: simple
past, future, present progressive, perfective, and passive. These reÂ¬
sults concurred with those which Wilcox and Tobin (1974) found for their
younger hard-of-hearing students.
Judgments of grammaticalness did improve for the deaf, but this
was discovered to be caused by an increased awareness by the older deaf
subjects to judge incorrect sentences as ungrammatical rather than an
increased ability to recognize a correct sentence as being grammatical.
Even if the deaf did recognize a sentence as being incorrect, as in verb
deletion, they were quite often unable to supply a verb that was correct
in either number or tense. This difficulty was similar to the results
in the Wilcox and Tobin (1974) study where there was a marked tendency
to confuse "have" and "be."
Summary of the Review of Language Assessment
A review of language assessment has indicated the following:
1. Language and cognition may be unrelated to the extent that
young deaf and hearing children usually displayed similar performances
on elementary Piagetian tasks, and both groups had no difficulty with
the semantical organization of nouns, verbs, and adjectives if the word
stimuli were familiar to them.
However, there was a question as to the relationship of language
and cognition with an increase in age. Sinclair-De-Zwart found the
more difficult Piagetian tasks related to syntactic ability. More reÂ¬
search utilizing more difficult tasks with older populations is indicated.
2. There was a tendency for hearing, hard-of-hearing, and deaf
to prefer the same problem solving strategies.
(a) On a paired word test, all three groups preferred assoÂ¬
ciation, followed by graphemically similar, and rhyming pairs.
(b) For a sentence repetition task under three experimental
conditions the hard-of-hearing and hearing had the most difficulty with
the recall task.
(c) A tendency with age for an increased interpretation of
B Readings (Art + N + N) for ambiguous direct and indirect object senÂ¬
tences was observed among the hearing, hard-of-hearing, and deaf.
3. Although even the oldest deaf subjects often scored lower than
the youngest hearing subjects, the deaf appeared to follow the same patÂ¬
tern of acquisition as the hearing in that the deaf did acquire, although
in many cases after a delay of several years, some of the earliest apÂ¬
pearing syntactical forms:
(a) present and past tense
(c) yes/no questions
(d) relativized clauses in the final position.
4. Other data indicated that for some structures the deaf showed
more than a gross delay but rather a chance performance which indicated
no valid knowledge of the particular structure under scrutiny.
(a) Passives were usually acquired by hearing children by
ages 8 or 9 whereas the older deaf were still processing all sentences
as S-V-O. Usage of the marker "by" was their only indication of the
passive. This strategy was observed to be similar to that of a 3 year
old hearing child. Even by age 18, the deaf student performed correctly
on 65% for non-reversable passives, 60% for reversable passives, and
35% for agent deleted passives.
(b) Indirect and direct object distinctions were initially
correctly comprehended through the use of the marker "to" by hearing,
hard-of-hearing, and deaf children. By the age of 13 the hearing chilÂ¬
dren had acquired additional strategies and could make the object distincÂ¬
tions with 91% accuracy. However, hard-of-hearing subjects of 14.5 years
of age comprehended these distinctions with only 59% accuracy. Deaf
children of 16.5 years were able to comprehend only 60% of these strucÂ¬
(c) Sentence comprehension for certain question formations
by 18 year old deaf subjects revealed a correct performance of 70% for
Wh- questions and 60% for tag questions.
(d) For medial embedded relativized clauses che 19 year old
deaf scored 56% correct which is comparable to 68% correct for a hearing
student at age 10.
5. Deviant strategies were observed in the performances of the
hard-of-hearing and deaf in their
(a) confusion of the verb "be" and "have"
(b) inability to recognize the need for the possessive noun
(c) tendency to take the object of the embedded relative
clause, make it the subject, and use the immediately following verb and
noun as the main verb and object
(d) ignorance of the conjunction rule that the subjects of
the sentences to be conjoined must serve the same function.
6. Previous syntactic studies were conducted in either the graphic
or oral medium which required either graphic, oral, or pointing response.
There is a possibility that poor performance resulted more from the
deaf subject's difficulty in expressing himself in the required test
format rather than his lack of English syntax. Tweney et al. (1975)
found no differences in semantic categorization between deaf and hearing
subjects when the stimuli were signed to the deaf.
If the same test were given under two separate conditionsâ€”one
utilizing traditional graphic stimuli and responses and the other condiÂ¬
tion employing a format more indigenous for the deaf (signing and finger
spelling) for stimuli presentation and subject responses, scores would:
(a) answer questions as to the true linguistic ability of the
deaf for these items
(b) serve as a possible design for future linguistic investiÂ¬
gations with this population.
7. The studies indicated that knowledge of syntactical structures
in the deaf could be classified as to delay in acquisition, usage of inÂ¬
appropriate or deviant strategies, and complete absence of certain strucÂ¬
Further research with different age groups on language structures
is needed to help ascertain:
(a) which of any or all of the above conditions is applicable
to specific structures
(b) background information so that some educational process
of remediation could then be commenced not only for the deaf but for
the hard-of-hearing as well.
The communicative ability of the deaf is examined again according
to the linguistic approach, but morphology, rather than syntax, is the
theme of this section. The same questions posed in the introduction
for section three are also relevant for this section. Exactly when and
how does usage of morphological rules employed by the hearing child ocÂ¬
cur in the deaf? Can morphological performance by the deaf be enhanced
through a presentation and response format more indigenous to the deaf
as in finger spelling and/or signing? Can performance on these specific
morphological structures predict general communication effectiveness in
situations where AMESLAN is used? This section includes the rationale
for the Berko Test of Morphology (BTM) and its usage with various popuÂ¬
lations including the deaf.
Rationale for the Use of Nonsense Syllables
In 1958 Jean Berko developed a classic study to assess children's
knowledge of English morphology. In order to insure correct internalizaÂ¬
tion of the English rule for certain inflections she used nonsense stimuli
rather than real words. This technique would eliminate the possibility
of the child responding with the correct inflection because of previous
experience with a particular word. For example, if he knew that the
plural of witch was witches he may have simply memorized that form.
However, if he correctly responded with the nonsense word "gutches" as the
plural of "glutch," it was assumed that this particular rule for plurali-
zation had become internalized.
Lists of the most commonly used vocabulary of first grade children's
conversations, compositions, and letters were studied. These lists inÂ¬
cluded all of the English inflectional morphemes. From this information
the author decided what kinds of extensions might be expected to be made
by the young child. The areas assessed were plurals, past tense, third
person singular of the verb, progressives, comparative and superlative
of the adjective, and two possessives of the noun. Derivational and
compound words were also included.
When written the terminal letter "s" may express several different
structures (plural, third person singular, or possessive). The spoken
allomorphs of the letter "s" (/-s/, /-z, /-0z/), even though syntactically
may express different structures, are phonologically conditioned and
identical with one another. Similarly graphic inflection of the regular
past tense is "ed"; however, the productive allomorphs (/1 /, /-d/, /-*^d /)
are also phonologically conditioned. An example for the past tense
/â€”t/ after stems that terminate in voiceless sounds
as in /p/, /k/, /tj/, /f /, /G/, /s/.
/â€”d/ after stems that terminate in voiced sounds
as in /b/, /g/, /v/, /%/, /m/, /n/, /j/, /r/, /l/
/-^d/ after stems that terminate in /t/, /d/
The progressive "-ing" and the adjectives "-er" and "-est" are inÂ¬
variable. It should also be noted that the plural possessive has an
/â€”0/ allomorph. There is no phonological difference in singular and
plural possession. This difference is indicated graphically, however,
by placement of the apostrophe as in "boy's" and "boys."'
Also noted in the first graders' vocabulary and consequently tested
by Berko were words consisting of a free morpheme and a derivational
suffix as in "teacher" or of two free morphemes as in "blackboard." She
felt that there were enough examples to warrant testing the diminutive-
affectionate-y, the adjectival-y, and the agentive-er.
To assess the child's use of various morphological rules under
differing phonological conditions nonsense words were made up which folÂ¬
lowed phonological rule usage in English. Several real English words
were also included in the test.
Each test plate included nonsense pictures and a text which
omitted the desired form. Figure 1 illustrates an example of a test
for the plural allomorph /-z/. A plate similar to the following would
This is a wug
Now there is another one
There are two of them.
There are two
The test was also given to native adult speakers of English.
Their responses, which did vary, were the criterion used in evaluating
the children's responses for the derivational and compound words.
The test was given to preschool and first grade children. ConÂ¬
sistency, regularity, and simplicity were three main characteristics of
the children's responses. New items were not treated in an idiosyncratic
pattern. Best performances were on those forms that are the most freÂ¬
quently used and/or have the fewest variants.
The importance of Berko's work in linguistic investigation is eviÂ¬
dent by the fact that other researchers have adapted and/or modified
the basic test and used this instrument in morphological studies with
different populations. The basic validity of nonsense words as measureÂ¬
ments of morphological sophistication has been validated by many studies.
Anisfeld and Tucker (1967) studied the productive and receptive
performance on pluralization rules by 6 year old American children. A
general hierarchy of difficulty emerged with the easiest allophone being
/-z/ followed by /-s/ and finally /^Â¡>z/.
Ivimey (1975) used the Berko method to study the formulation and
use of morphological rules in a large sample of London school children
between the ages of 3.5 to 9 years. His results were also in broad agreeÂ¬
ment with those of Berko; the acquisition process, however, for his popuÂ¬
lation was much slower.
The Grammatic Closure subtest of the Illinois Test of Psycholin-
guistic Abilities (ITPA) (Kirk, McCarthy, & Kirk, 1968) was modeled
directly after Berko's test but used meaningful lexical items to assess
a child's productive competence for morphological rules. This particular
subtest of the ITPA is regarded by many speech clinicians as one of the
few subtests that actually measures what all of the subtests claim to
appraiseâ€”mainly the evaluation of language. There is an excellent corÂ¬
relation between Berko's test and the Grammatic Closure subtest.
Pettit and Gillespie (1975) compared the performances of children
from 3-8 years of age on 10 selected items from the Berko test and 10
corresponding lexical items from the Grammatic Closure subtest of the
ITPA. Results concurred with those of other researchers in that the
children scored higher on the meaningful ITPA items than on the Berko
items at every age level.
Berry and Talbott (Berry, 1966) published a language test adapted
from Berko which utilized nonsense pictures and words in a sentence comÂ¬
pletion task. Thirty-eight items were used to explore the child's
ability to make up and to use rules of grammar and syntax. All of the
morphological inflections which were assessed in the Berko test were
also incorporated in the Berry-Talbott Test (BTT). The authors stated
that their test was limited to the knowledge of linguistic morphology
common to children between 5-8 years of age.
The plates are presented to the child so that he may see the picÂ¬
tures, and if he is able, to follow the sentences that are read to him.
No attempt was made to secure normative scores for various age levels.
Based on preliminary studies the authors predicted differences in perÂ¬
formance levels with age so that:
In general . . . the average 5-year old child would
successfully complete the sentences on Plates I - V,
the 6-year old, I - XIV (with one error); the 7-year
old I - XX (with one error); and allowing for one
error the average child of eight years should be able
to sweep the series I - XXX. (p. 3)
Vogel (1977) found both the BTT and the Grammatic Closure subtest
of the ITPA extremely valuable measures for identifying children who
were good readers from those who were dyslexic. Both tests were adÂ¬
ministered and results indicated that the dyslexics were significantly
inferior to the good readers. The author hypothesized that difficulty
with even simple morphological inflections could result in inefficient
use of the semantic and syntactic clues provided by morphology in
Newfield and Schlanger (1968) utilized Berko's nonsense words as
well as a list of real words to compare acquisition of English morphology
by normal and educable mentally retarded children.
The learning pace was slower for the latter population; however,
the order of acquisition was the same as for the normal group. DifferÂ¬
ences favoring correct responses for real over nonsense items appreared
for both groups. The disparity was greater for the mentally retarded
group. This result helped confirm Berko's supposition that there is a
difference in application of a rule to a familiar item and the generalÂ¬
ized application of this rule to unfamiliar items. It appeared that
application of inflectional endings appeared first in familiar contexts
and then, after some time lapse, this rule could be extended to unfamiliar
Dever and Gardner (1970) also studied the performance of normal
and retarded boys on Berko's tests. Their results supported those of
Newfield and Schlanger (1968).
In the above study it was observed that although some of the chilÂ¬
dren failed to supply the correct morpheme in the test situation, they
did in fact use it correctly in conversational speech. In 1972 Dever
presented a revised Berko test and also two samples of free speech from
30 educable mentally retarded boys.
Results revealed that although lexical items were slightly better
predictors than nonsense items, both stimuli were poor indicators of corÂ¬
rect morphological usage in spontaneous speech for this population.
No differences in morphological structures in the language of disÂ¬
advantaged and advantaged children were found when Shriner and Miner
(1968) assessed the groups' receptive and expressive performance on a
Berko type nonsense syllable test. The test did measure linguistic
ability as both groups improved in application of morphological rules
to unfamiliar situations with a corresponding increase in mental age.
The authors hypothesized that when relevant variables such as IQ and
articulation are controlled the morphological abilities measured in
their study may not be sensitive enough to any discrepancies between
the two groups.
The Berko Test has not been without criticism. Some critics claim
that the use of nonsense syllables is a confusion factor and that actual
language is better than test results would indicate. One of the harshest
criticisms is the myth of an "ideal" or "standard adult model." The
responses of Berko's adults did vary for the derivational and compound
words; however, other authors have found the adult responses for these
items much more variable than those obtained by Berko. Dever and
Gardner (1970) criticized their version of Berko's test on this point.
They accepted and scored as correct for the students any of their
teachers' responses for those items that occurred with a frequency of
over 15%. Ivimey (1975) also found his adult models far from stable.
He attributed this factor to the increase in linguistic sophistication
(as measured by postschool education) so that greater deviance was
demonstrated in manipulating the nonsense words.
Larson, Summers, and Jacquot (1976) specifically criticized the
BTT on the ambiguity of adult responses. None of his adult models
achieved a perfect score on this test, and the majority missed between
six and seven items. The following four items were missed by more
than half of the adults: the diminutive of "nad," the derived word
"nadhouse," and the two derived adjectives "troppy" and "liggy." Not
surprisingly these were also the same items most often missed by the
children whose ages were 5.5, 6, and 6.5.
A further criticism was what Larson et al. (1976) felt was the
highly unrealistic projected performance scores according to age which
Berry and Talbott had made. (Refer to the section on the BTT for the
projected performance levels.) The scores of these subjects did support
this contention. However, if one looked at the errors made by the
majority of the children, in addition to the ones previously described,
these additional errors were on a fairly high level for the BTT. These
errors included the plurals for the stimulus items "lutz" and "spuz"
which require the /-Â¿jz/ allomorph, and the derived noun for the stimulus
When the higher adult mean scores were compared with those of the
children, a maturational effect was suggested. Correlating again with
the results of other researchers the majority of the children's responses,
even when incorrect, showed evidence of regularity and rule formation.
Despite the criticisms Larson et al. (1976) felt the BTT to be a valuable
tool in discovering the evolution of a child's morphological development.
Morphological Studies of the Deaf
There has been only one widely reported study on the use of morÂ¬
phological and derivational rules by the deaf. In 1967 Cooper assessed
the knowledge of deaf children to apply inflected and derivational sufÂ¬
fixes on an instrument modeled on the test devised by Berko. This
test utilized nonsense pictures and "words" to elicit the desired
In Cooper's (1967) study a paper and pencil test was devised to
obtain information about receptive and productive ability. The 140 deaf
students ranged in age from 7 to 19 years, and the 176 hearing students
had an age range of 7 to 11 years.
Receptive knowledge was ascertained in the following manner. An
animal was called a "mogg" and below there were four pictures: one of
two moggs, one of a single mogg, one of a mogg with a different animal,
and one of a different animal. The children were asked to put an "X"
To determine productive knowledge the child was asked to modify
nonsense words cued by a picture. Under the picture was a text of the
following type: "This is a man who knows how to hipp. He did it yesterÂ¬
day. What did he do yesterday? Yesterday he (h) ." If the subÂ¬
jects wrote (h)ipped, it was taken as an indication that productive
knowledge of the past tense existed.
There were three types of testing for irregular inflectional patÂ¬
terns. In the first form the students were given a picture, for example,
"mife," and read that they were to select the picture of the irregular
plural in this example "mives." In the second condition the students
were to choose the word that best completed a sentence within a given
context, for example, "Mary has a tife. Jack has a tife. They both
have two (tife, tifes, tive, tives)." The regular or the irregular form
was scored as correct. In the third condition the subjects were required
to complete a sentence in a given context, for example, there was a picÂ¬
ture of an imaginary animal named a "zife" and there was another picture
of two animals similar to the first. The subject had to complete the
sentence: "Here are two (z) ." Credit was given for the regular
model response (zifes) or the irregular model (zives).
Comprehension of derivational words was determined by having the
child select the best word from a multiple choice array, for example,
"Mary knows how to zugg. She zuggs everyday. She knows a lot about:
(zuggy, zugged, zuggness, zugging)."
Productive knowledge of derivational words was obtained by requirÂ¬
ing the subject to complete a statement, for example, "John's dog has
waggs on it. Waggs are all over the dog. It is a (w) dog."
Results indicated the marked superiority of even the youngest subÂ¬
jects over the average score of the 19 year old deaf students. Patterns
of item difficulty for the deaf students shadowed that of the hearing
students with performance for the two groups being closest on inflecÂ¬
tional items and farthest apart on derivational items. Hearing females
passed each item clearly and consistently with a corresponding increase
in age. This was not the case for the deaf females where the percentage
for passing each item increased erratically and inconsistently with
chronological age. There was greater discrepancy when scores were comÂ¬
pared with chronological age rather than with mental age or reading
equivalent. There was an increased tendency for both groups to use the
irregular plural with age. Plural nouns and past tense were the easiest
items. Next, proceeding from least to most difficult were: 1) progresÂ¬
sive, 2) superlative adjective, 3) comparative adjective, 4) third person
singular, and 5) derived words.
Cooper's test, as in several of the syntactic tests reviewed in
the previous section, was a graphic evaluation, and he thought his test
a promising instrument for assessing children's knowledge of certain lanÂ¬
guage rules, however, he cautioned that although written and spoken
English have many common features, there is not a one-to-one corresponÂ¬
dence between these two communication modes.
Summary of Morphological Assessment
A review of morphological assessment has indicated the following
1. Nonsense tests of morphology adapted from Berko's original
test (1958) are valid in measuring a child's ability to apply morphologiÂ¬
cal rules to new stimuli. Consistency, regularity, and simplicity are
three characteristics which are evident in responses, even if the response
2. These tests of morphology have proved useful in assessing a
child's developmental level in morphological rule application and in difÂ¬
ferentiating among normal and other population groups such as the deaf,
the dyslexics, and the mentally retarded.
3. Children always perform better on morphological tests which
employ real rather than nonsense items. They first demonstrate morÂ¬
phological usage with true words and then, after some delay, are able
to extend this rule to unfamiliar nonsense words.
4. Rate of morphological rule acquisition may vary but the general
order of acquisition is preserved. Performance is best on the inflections
most frequently used and/or on those having the fewest variants.
5. With adults who have achieved a certain degree of linguistic
sophistication because of their educational backgrounds there is a great
variety of responsesâ€”especially for derived compound words, diminutives,
and derived adjectives.
6. The BTT has been shown to be a valid test of morphology and
to correlate with other valid language assessment tests (Grammatic
Closure Subtest of the ITPA).
7. Cooper's evaluation (1967) was a paper and pencil test. He,
himself, cautioned about adopting a one-to-one correlation between graphic
and spoken language.
(a) Therefore, in a population like the deaf, who use visual
and gestural signals as their primary method of communication, a test
of morphological rules presented visually (sign and finger spelling) and
requiring a visual response would give more valid information about the
deaf's knowledge of morphological rules since the procedure would be in
a medium indigenous to them.
(b) An administration of the same test in the traditional
graphic manner would determine the extent which medium presentation afÂ¬
fects the deaf's responses and if the poor morphological performances
could be an artifact of a particular testing procedure, or true ignorance
by the deaf for certain morphological rules.
Statement of the Problem
The purposes of this research were to investigate the visual (finger
spelled and signed English) vs. the graphic performance of deaf adolesÂ¬
cents on linguistic tasks using the BTT and to investigate if a relaÂ¬
tionship existed between these scores and judgments of FC proficiency.
FC proficiency was judged by persons knowledgeable in sign language and
finger spelling utilizing a 5 point Quality Scale and a specific Item
Analysis Sample which contained the major and minor items of the story.
The specific goals of this investigation were:
1. To determine if a method of presentation and response (finger
spelled or graphic) would influence the linguistic performance of the
2. To determine if a relationship existed between BTT scores and
the judged level of FC proficiency.
3. To determine if linguistic performance and/or FC were dependent
on any of the following variables:
(b) dB loss in better ear
(c) first language in the home
(d) persons at home who can finger spell and/or sign
(e) age when finger spelling first acquired
(f) number of years at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind
(g) reading level
(h) IQ level
(i) date of birth
(l) other impaired family members
METHOD AND DESIGN OF THE STUDY
This chapter contains the procedures used for subject selection,
the experimental tasks performed by the subjects, reliability procedures,
and the instruments utilized for analysis.
Thirty students were randomly selected from among those who were
attending the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB) who met the
1. a hearing loss of 60 dB or greater in the better
ear as the primary deficit
2. deaf from birth or prelingually deafened (before
the acquisition of speech)
3. a performance IQ score of 95 or higher
4. a reading level equivalent to grade three or
5. a monolingual (English) home environment of
English, sign, finger spelling, and/or some
mixture of all three
6. an age range from 14 - 19
7. a score of at least 75% correct on a researcher
developed test of finger spelling ability.
Criteria one through six were obtained from school records. A
profile of the subjects of this study is in Appendix A.
Finger Spelling Ability
Potential subjects were given a researcher developed test of picÂ¬
ture naming, by finger spelling, in order to determine their ability
to finger spell. If a subject failed this task he would have been autoÂ¬
matically disqualified from the investigation and another student, posÂ¬
sessing the desired criteria, would have been randomly selected and
given the Finger Spelling Test. Words ranged in difficulty from the
very easy, everyday ones which would be familiar to a first grader, to
increasingly difficult and less encountered ones. The most difficult
were nonsense pictures where the "names" consisted of letter configuraÂ¬
tions uncommon to the English language. Naturally for the nonsense picÂ¬
tures the subject was shown the written name. See Appendix B for the
test, instructions, procedural protocol, and scoring methods. A passing
criterion level of 75% correct was selected.
Each student responded to the graphic form of the BTT and the
manual form of the BTT. They also retold a simple paragraph story in
any manner they preferred. The sequence of these three procedural tasks
was randomized for each subject to minimize the possible order effect.
Each testing session was individually conducted in a quiet room during
regular school hours. The time required for the complete evaluation
procedure ranged from 1 hour to 1 hour and 45 minutes, with a mean time
of 1 hour and 10 minutes. This mean also included the time necessary
to make any mechanical adjustments on the instruments utilized, such as
rewinding of the video presentation tape or changing the tape used in
filming the subjects.
Each subject responded to 38 questions. The nonsense words and
stimuli were presented on 30 plates which had been made into a booklet
form. In some instances two stimulus items appeared on a single plate.
Instructions were in accordance with the published protocol of the Berry-
Talbott Language Tests I: Comprehension of Grammar (Berry, 1966). The
first two items were reviewed with the subjects until the examiner was
certain that the nature of the task was understood. For succeeding
items the child read the stimulus material, responded graphically on his
answer sheet, and proceeded to the next page. There was no time limit
for this task. Samples of test stimuli, instructions, and answer sheets
may be found in Appendix C.
From previous visits and conversations with students and staff
at FSDB it was discovered that some of their signs were slightly difÂ¬
ferent from those which would be used in the manual (visual) presentaÂ¬
tion. Therefore, to avoid possible confusion, a written list of these
signs was presented to each subject before the video viewing. The subÂ¬
ject provided the examiner with his sign for a particular word and was
given the sign he would see on the video tape.
Before the actual video tape presentation additional instructions
were presented in graphic as well as in signed English form. Because
of the transient nature of finger spelling, it was important that the
subjects knew that the exact, correct spelling of the stimuli word was
not important but that some finger spelled response to each item was
The standard directions, procedures, sentences and nonsense stimuli
utilized for the Graphic BTT were presented on a split-screen 19 inch
video monitor (Sony, CVM 192-U). On one-half of the screen was a picÂ¬
ture of the nonsense stimuli. This plate remained constant while on
the other half of the screen the examiner used signed English and finger
spelling to communicate the standard graphic stimuli of the BTT. The
only procedural difference between the graphic and manual presentations
was that in the latter task the subject had a 10 second interval to finger
spell his response. There were no repeats of stimulus items once the
test had begun.
The subjects were seated about 5 feet from the monitor. A microÂ¬
phone was placed in front of the child to record any vocalizations. All
students saw and, if capable of, heard the same video tape film of the
test which had been filmed on a portable video camera (Sony AVC 3210).
Video recordings of the finger spelled responses of all subjects were
made for later scoring.
The signs reviewed prior to the film presentation and additional
instructions are found in Appendix D.
The subjects were given a story (Form A-G) from the Gray Oral
Reading Test (GORT) which had an approximate fourth grade level of difÂ¬
ficulty (Grey, 1967). The students were told to read the story to themÂ¬
selves, and when they felt that they were adequately prepared, to retell
the story in any manner they wished. Instructions were presented in
graphic, oral, and signed English form. Video recordings of all stories
were made. If the student inquired about a particular vocabulary word
the examiner explained it. This task placed no time limits on either
the reading of the passage itself or on its communication by the subject.
See Appendix D for the instructions given and the paragraph taken from
BTT Graphic and Manual
This investigation was concerned with the concept conveyed by cerÂ¬
tain English morphemes and not, as in several previous studies, the
production of particular allomorphs for the same morpheme. Therefore,
any indication that the subject did demonstrate appropriate knowledge
for the required morpheme was scored as correct. For example, "s" and
"es" were both considered as correct responses for the plural, and in
the same manner, "ed" and/or "ied" were considered as correct for the
For the diminutive and compound words the adult models of Berko
were utilized. Derived adjectives and nouns, comparatives, superlatives,
and possessives were scored correct only when the traditional English
morphemes were produced. For example, even if the subject displayed in
sign language or finger spelling that he understood the difference beÂ¬
tween the comparative and superlative but failed to finger spell or
write the required "er" or "est" inflections, his responses were scored
as incorrect. No one was penalized for misspellings of the nonsense
The experimenter scored all Graphic and Manual BTT responses. In
order to establish an index of reliability of the ratings a hearing, colÂ¬
lege student of deaf parents who was familiar with signs and finger
spelling also scored Graphic and Manual BTT items. He was previously
given a short training session so that he would be familiar with the
scoring criterion. These responses were then compared with those of the
The tests scored by the second rater were composites of responses
from all of the subjects. The experimenter rank ordered each subject's
test scores for both the Graphic BTT and Manual BTT performances. Graphic
and manual test scores were very disparate for some subjects. Therefore,
it could not be assumed that because someone achieved a certain score
in one medium that he would perform similarly in the other medium.
After rank ordering the two sets of scores, the highest 10 scores of
each medium were designated as the high Graphic and high Manual BTT
groups. The next 10 highest scores for each medium were designated as
the medium Graphic and medium Manual BTT groups. Finally the lowest
scores for each medium were defined respectively as the low Graphic and
Manual BTT groups.
The subjects from each group were assigned from 2 through 4 items
of the total 38 items of the BTT. This procedure resulted in six comÂ¬
posite tests of which three were graphic and three were manual. For
each medium there was a separate test for the high, medium, and low
groups. (The same type of video recorder utilized for the previous
films was again employed for the three new manual films.)
Graphic ratings for the high, medium, and low categories were comÂ¬
pared. There was 1.00agreement between the two raters.
Overall manual ratings had an agreement of .95. Manual ratings
for the high category resulted in an agreement of .89. Manual ratings
for both the medium and low categories showed a .97 level of agreement.
The differences in level of agreement between high, and the medium and
low categories is a good illustration of the fleeting nature of finger
spelling. For example, many of the subjects in the high category used
the sign for the possessive which, unless particularly emphasized, is
very difficult to determine as to whether singular or plural possession
is indicated. Hence, a value judgment had to be made. None of the subÂ¬
jects in the medium and low categories showed knowledge of the possesÂ¬
sive so this value judgment was not necessary.
A normal js-test for difference in proportions indicated that there
was a significant difference between the graphic and manual ratings at
the .05 level with _z being equal to 2.51.
Two groups each containing three judges viewed and rated the stuÂ¬
dents' functional communication stores. All of the judged were fluent
in signing, finger spelling, and English. Since they were also employed
in various capacities with FSDB, all were familiar with any expressions
or signs which might be colloquial to that specific geographical locaÂ¬
tion and population. Each of the groups contained one hearing, one
deaf, and one hard-of-hearing judge. Both groups saw the same 30
stories; however, in order to avoid a possible order effect, the appearÂ¬
ance of the student in each of the two films was randomized. Therefore,
the location of a particular student in Group A's film differed from the
same student's appearance in Group B's film. (After each story the
judges were given a one minute pause to rate their observations.)
All of the judges received their instructions (orally, manually,
and graphically) during the same session. However, each group indiviÂ¬
dually scored its own film. Because of the rapidity of the material to
be scored, the two groups saw their same films a second time a few hours
after their first viewing. They were given abbreviated instructions
and were allowed to make changes from their previous observations.
The judges were given a rating sheet which assessed three dimenÂ¬
sions of communication. It was on this sheet where they marked their
observations. Part A assessed overall communicative efficiency and the
quality to convey general concepts on a categorical scale of 1 - 5.
This was the Quality Score.
Part B contained an item analysis for specific main and detail
ideas of the story. Items were scored according to a 3 point system.
A score of 3 indicated the judge was confident that the idea was conÂ¬
veyed in its entirety, a score of 2 indicated that the judge thought
the idea to be partially presented, and a score of 1 indicated that
the judge was certain that the idea was completely absent.
In Part C the ratio of a student's finger spelling to signing
preferences in communication was rated. The scale ranged from 1 (alÂ¬
most total finger spelling) to 5 (almost total signing). (See Appendix F
for instructions and the Functional Communication Evaluation Sheet.)
In order to obtain an index of reliability for the ratings of the
FC Evaluation the following three questions had to be determined:
1. Were there differences between the six correlation
matrices corresponding to each judge?
2. Were there differences in correlation matrices corÂ¬
responding to each type of judge (Hard-of-Hearing,
Deaf, and Hearing)?
3. Was there a difference between the two correlation
matrices corresponding of each group (order effect)
for the judges?
The correlation between Theme and Quality for all three of the
above questions was analyzed by using "Fisher's transformation to apÂ¬
proximate normality" (Bruning & Kintz, 1968). An "H" (JO test for
homogeneity of correlations (Mendenhall, 1968) was then applied.
The "H" statistic revealed nonsignificant differences: among
the six individual judges, among the type of judge, or between groups
of judges. Furthermore, since each of the tests for the three questions
was performed at the .01 level of significance, the overall sum level
was less than .03. This indicated similar judgments by raters, hearing
type, and group. It can therefore be inferred that for this evaluation
FC ratings were reliable.
To determine whether a method of presentation and response (graphic
or manual) would influence the linguistic performances of the deaf a
J^-test for related pairs was utilized (Mendenhall, 1975).
In order to answer questions two and three of the Problem StateÂ¬
ment, a single measurement for H3 proficiency was needed so that correÂ¬
lations between this measurement and Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and demoÂ¬
graphic data could be computed.
The logical measurement for FC would be the average ratings of the
judges on the overall Quality Score. This would be a simple and good
measurement if it could be shown that the judges arrived at the Quality
Score after careful consideration of all factors on the FC Evaluation
The Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Forward Stepwise Procedure
(Service, 1972) selected an 11 variable model for the dependent variable,
Quality. This Stepwise Procedure first selected the variable that preÂ¬
dicted most of the variance for the dependent variable (in this case,
Quality). The procedure then continued to select the next most important
variable responsible for variance of the dependent variable. The addiÂ¬
tion of each new variable and consequent formation of a new model conÂ¬
tinued until all of the independent variables were included (in this
case, the main and detail ideas and Theme of the FC Evaluation Sheet).
Probability levels, R s, and F-ratios for each of the models were also
determined by the Forward Stepwise Procedure.
The 11 variable model for Quality had an R of .98 with all factors
except Theme statistically significant at the .01 level, 1^(29,18) =
89.53, f< .01. The significant factors were main topics A,B,D,E, and
details A-F. These factors were needed to predict the Quality Score,
and it appears that the judges, on the average, carefully considered
those factors in determining their Quality Score.
It is thus inferred that the Quality Score is a good measurement
of FC proficiency. Refer to Tables 1 and 2 at the end of this section
for the SAS model, the identification of the variables chosen, and
their occurrence in the paragraph which the students read.
To determine whether a relationship existed between the BTT scores
(graphic and manual) and the judged level of FC, the variables, as inÂ¬
dicated by the correlation coefficients printed by the SAS, were obÂ¬
served for significance levels of .05 or higher.
The demographic data (etiology type, dB loss in the better ear,
first language in the home, persons at home who can finger spell and/or
sign, age when finger spelling was first acquired, number of years at
FSDB, reading level, IQ, age, race, sex, and other impaired family memÂ¬
bers) had its significance to the Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC
models determined by the Forward Stepwise Procedure of the SAS. For
any of the three models the demographic variables were considered sigÂ¬
nificant at the .05 level or higher.
Stepwise Regression Model for the Dependent Variable, Quality Score,
as Selected by the Forward Stepwise Procedure of the SAS
R2 = 0.9820
F RATIO = 89.53
Main Topic A
Main Topic B
Main Topic D
Main Topic E
* Significant at .05 level
** Significant at .01 level
Theme, Main Topics, and Detail Topics from the
Functional Communication Evaluation: Part B, Item Analysis
Airplane pilots have many jobs.
MAIN TOPICS DETAIL TOPICS
transportation between cities
to hungry people
to hungry animals
bringing znimals to zoos from the
act as traffic police
spot speeding cars
on the highway
* Significant at .05 level
** Significant at .01 level
Data concerning the linguistic performance on the Graphic and
Manual BTT are presented in the initial section of this chapter. CorreÂ¬
lational data among Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and judged level of FC
are found in the second section. Particular demographic data are preÂ¬
sented in the final section. Because the interaction among some of
these variables was of interest, there is some overlap introduced in
the various tables. Consequently, Tables 3 through 8 are collectively
presented at the end of this chapter.
Linguistic Performance on Graphic and Manual BTT
A paired difference t-statistic revealed that there was a signiÂ¬
ficant difference in linguistic performance dependent on graphic or
manual presentations and responses. The -3.59 _t-statistic indicated
a difference in average test scores for the two methods at the .05 level
of significance. The negative _t-statistic indicated that average test
scores for the Graphic method are significantly higher than those for
the Manual method. Table 3 shows the subjects' individual scores for
the Graphic and Manual BTT tasks.
Table 4 contains a description of the graphic and manual performÂ¬
ances. The range for graphic performances was 5-33 with a mean of
18.33. The range for manual performance was 4-30 with a mean of 15.93.
The transient nature of finger spelling as well as the timed response
period allowed may be responsible for the better performance with the
graphic medium. Nevertheless, it may be inferred that for linguistic
tasks of this type a graphic presentation is a valid procedural method
for assessing the linguistic ability of the deaf.
Correlations Among Graphic BTT, Manual BTT,
and the Judged Level of FC Proficiency
Correlations among the Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and the judged
level of FC proficiency were obtained from the linear regression model
of the SAS. The information in Table 5 indicates a correlation between
Graphic BTT and Manual BTT scores of .79 which is statistically signiÂ¬
ficant at the .01 level.
This is not surprising considering that the same test and protocol
had been utilized with the only manipulated variables being those of
presentation and response. These scores may also be viewed in regard
to the ability of the deaf to perform in a similar manner for two enÂ¬
tirely different communication modes. Thus the elaborate testing proceÂ¬
dures necessary for a visual presentation and response would not be
necessary in order to obtain a measurement of linguistic competence
similar to the one utilized in this study.
Table 5 reveals a correlation of .55 between the Graphic BTT
score and the quality FC score which has a statistically significance
level of .01. Both the Graphic BTT and FC ratings were dependent on
some form of reading ability which may have influenced this correlation
to some extent.
The correlation between the Manual BTT scores and quality FC scores
was .31 at a significance level of .09. Thus Manual BTT scores and qualÂ¬
ity FC scores lacked statistical significance at the .05 level. However,
a .09 significance level might suggest to some investigators that Manual
BTT scores should not be completely discounted.
In summary, Graphic and Manual BTT scores were significantly corÂ¬
related at the .01 level. Similarly, Graphic BTT scores and FC quality
scores were correlated at the .01 level. However, Manual BTT scores
and FC quality scores were not statistically significant at the .05
level. It can therefore be inferred that the Graphic BTT may be used
as a predictor of _FC quality.
Linear regression models, as selected by the Forward Stepwise
Procedure of the SAS, were used for all of the independent demographic
variables. Each variable was investigated for its contribution to the
following models: the dependent variable Graphic BTT, the dependent
variable Manual BTT, and the dependent variable FC.
The best linear regression model for the Graphic BTT (Table 6)
explained 63% of the total variance in graphic scores; the manual
model (Table 7) explained 60% of the total variance in manual scores;
the FC model (Table 8) explained 80% of the total score variance. CriÂ¬
terion for entry of a particular demographic variable into a model was
a minimum significance level of .50.
There were 19 students who were deaf from birth and 11 who acÂ¬
quired deafness prelingually. For the combined group of subjects
etiology was found to be the following: 13 - unknown, 7 - rubella,
3 - birth trauma, 3 - heredity, 2 - meningitis, 1 - Rh factor, 1 - enÂ¬
The above seven levels of the variable etiology were analyzed in
a dichotomous-comparison format. For example, the rubella factor was
compared against all of the other six etiologies or the hereditary factor
was compared against all six of the remaining etiological factors.
The factor of heredity was included in the Manual BTT model,
_F(29,23) = 8.45, f< .01. It can then be inferred that heredity signiÂ¬
ficantly contributes to a positive performance on the Manual BTT. This
result further supports findings of previous investigators that deaf
children of deaf parents, who thus have an early exposure to a manual
communication system, perform better than deaf children of hearing
parents who are denied this early exposure.
Encephalitis was included in the FC model, F(29,15) = 5.19,
f < .05. However, there was only one subject whose etiology was that
of encephalitis so the correlation with FC should be assessed with that
factor in mind.
According to Silverman (1971) the term "deaf" is used for chilÂ¬
dren "who do not have sufficient residual hearing to enable them to
understand speech successfully, even with a hearing aid, without special
instruction" (p.399). He used Huizing's classification (1953) which
related loss as expressed by pure-tone audiometry. The suggested
categories pertinent to this study were:
Grade III: 60 - 90 dB = severe loss
Grade IV: More than 90 dB = deaf (no speech
understanding ability) (p. 401).
The subjects in this investigation had a dB loss ranging from 62 -
118 (94.97) in the better ear. The obvious conclusion is that all subÂ¬
jects were severely hearing impaired.
For both the Graphic and Manual BTT models the variable dB loss
was not even included in the model. This would concur with the results
of other investigations which found this variable (for the severely
hearing impaired) to be insignificant for academic success. However,
in the FC model this variable was statistically significant, F(29,15) =
5.90, f <1 .05. Other studies of signing in the deaf have been more conÂ¬
cerned with the properties of the communication medium itself and have
not, to my knowledge, investigated the specific amount of loss once it
was ascertained that the subject was deaf.
The main reading level of the subjects, obtained from the school's
records on the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), revealed a score of 5.3
(fifth year, third month) with a standard deviation of 2.3. The indiÂ¬
vidual levels ranged from 1.7 - 9.9.
Reading level was the only variable of statistical significance
on the Graphic BTT 1^(29,19) = 6.47, f
reading level was again the most statistically significant variable,
_F(29,23) = 17.59, f <Â£ .01. The. fact that reading level was also the
most statistically significant variable on the FC model, _F(29,15) =
10.62, f Â«C. .01, emphasized that this variable was by far the most
powerful for all three tasks which were investigated. Other researchers
have also found reading level to be one of the most important variables
for high linguistic performance.
Age When Finger Spelling First Acquired
Finger spelling acquisition ranged from almost at birth (in cases
of deaf children of deaf parents) to age 15. This variable was statistiÂ¬
cally significant in the Manual BTT model, F(29,23) = 4.95, f *Â£.05.
This significance is in agreement with the data collected by previous
researchers which stressed early exposure to finger spelling for its
maximum benefit for the deaf's communication to be achieved.
The subjects for this investigation ranged in age from 16 - 18.
The median age was 17.13 years with a standard deviation of .50.
Only for the Manual BTT was this variable statistically signifiÂ¬
cant, 1^(29,23) = 7.27, f^ .01. With the subjects' ages so close toÂ¬
gether it is difficult to discern why this should be such a significant
variable and only for the Manual BTT model.
First Language in the Home
English was the primary language in the home for 27 students.
Sign was the primary language for two students, and one student reported
a combination of English and sign as the language of the home.
These three levels of the variable first home language were analyzed
in a dichotomous-comparison format where no level reached the signifiÂ¬
cance level for inclusion in any of the models.
Other Hearing Impaired Family Members
From among all of the students in this study only 3 subjects reÂ¬
ported that other members of their immediate family were hearing imÂ¬
paired. This variable lacked significance for all three models. The
low number of subjects included in this variable may be one of the
reasons it was statistically insignificant.
Persons at Home Who Can Finger Spell and/or Sign
The above variable contained three levels which were analyzed in
a dichotomous-comparison format where no level attained any statistical
significance for any model. No manual communication at home was reÂ¬
ported by 10 students, 13 reported some manual communication, and 7 reÂ¬
ported that manual communication was frequent at home.
The lack of significance for the last three variables citedâ€”first
language in the home, other hearing impaired family members, persons at
home who can finger spell and/or sign--may all lack significance for
similar reasons. The subjects in this study were older students who
lived in the institutionalized environment of FSDB where everyone finger
spelled and signed. There would be the possibility that the effect of
the family was replaced by that of a peer group.
Number of Years of Attendance at FSDB
The administrators and school records assured the researcher that
all of the subjects had had some prior educational experience if they
had entered FSDB later than age 4 or 5â€”which is the earliest program
level for the school. The actual years of attendance at FSDB ranged
from 1 through 12 with a mean of 6.66 years and a standard deviation
This variable was included in both the Graphic BTT and FC models
but at statistically insignificant levels. The fact that years of atÂ¬
tendance was completely excluded from the Manual BTT could be a possible
argument that this variable had no statistical significance relative
to performance on the tasks of this investigation.
The subjects' IQ scores, when measured on the performance test
of the Wechsler Test of Intelligence (WISC), yielded a range of 95 - 133
with a mean of 112.53 and a standard deviation of 10.05.
This variable was found to be insignificant for all three models.
Other investigators have also found little significance between IQ and
performance on linguistic tasks.
There were 26 white subjects and 4 black subjects. This variable
was insignificant for all three models; thus it can be inferred that
race was not a significant variable for the tasks of this investigation.
There were 21 male and 9 female subjects in this investigation.
This variable did not meet the .50 significance level for even entrance
into the three models.
Summary of Results
The summary of results is presented in reference to the specific
goals of this investigation which were presented in the "Statement of
the Problem" section.
1. The methods of presentation and responseâ€”graphic and manualâ€”
of the BTT did influence the linguistic performance of the deaf. The
Graphic BTT scores were higher than the Manual BTT scores at the statistiÂ¬
cally significance level of .01.
2. Graphic BTT scores and the judged level of FC proficiency
were highly correlated at the statistically significant level of .01.
However, correlations between Manual BTT scores and FC proficiency were
statistically insignificant at the .05 level of confidence. Graphic BTT
scores and Manual BTT scores were both significantly correlated at the
3.The particular demographic variables which significantly inÂ¬
fluenced performance on the Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC were:
(a) Graphic BTT
(1)Reading level (significant at the .01 level)
(b) Manual BTT
(1) Reading level (significant at the .01 level)
(2) Etiologyâ€”Heredity (significant at the .01 level)
(3) Age (significant at the .01 level)
(4) Age of Learning Finger Spelling (significant at the
(c) FC Rating
(1) Reading Level (significant at the .01 level)
(2) dB Loss (significant at the .05 level)
(3) Etiologyâ€”Encephalitis (significant at the .05 level)
Subjects' Individual Scores for the
Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC Ratings
Table 3 - continued
score out of a possible 38 correct
^score out of a possible 38 correct
average of judges' ratings on a scale from 1-5
Mean, Standard Deviation, Minimum and Maximum Scores
for the Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC Tasks as
Obtained from the Linear Regression Model of the SAS
^total of 38 items
total of 38 items
cbased on Quality Score which had a 1 (very poor) to 5 (very good)
Correlation Coefficients among
the Graphic BTT, Manual BTT,and FC Scores
as Shown by the Correlation Procedure of the SAS
* Significant at .05 level
** Significant at .01 level
Linear Regression Model for the Dependent Variable,
as Selected by the Forward Stepwise Procedure of
R2 = 0.6387
F RATIO =3.36
PROBABILITY F =
Age of Learning Finger Spelling
Years Attending FSDB
Etiology - Unknown
Etiology - Rubella
Deaf at Birth
No Manual Communication at Home
Finger Spelling to Sign Ratio
* Significant at .05 level
** Significant at .01 level
Linear Regression Model for the Dependent Variable, Manual BTT,
as Selected by the Forward Stepwise Procedure of the SAS
R2 = 0.6013
F RATIO =5.78
PROBABILITY F :
Age of Learning Finger Spelling
Etiology - Heredity
No Manual Communication at Home
* Significant at .05 level
** Significant at .01 level
Linear Regression Model for the Dependent Variable, FC
(Utilizing Quality Score as the Unit of Measure),
as Selected by the Forward Stepwise Procedure of the SAS
R = 0.8002
F RATIO =4.29
PROBABILITY F =
Age of Learning Finger Spelling
fears Attending FSDB
Other Hearing Impaired in Family
Etiology - Heredity
Etiology - Rubella
Deaf at Birth
Some Manual Communication at Home
Finger Spelling to Sign Ratio
Etiology - Meningitis
Table 8 - continued
F RATIO =4.29
Etiology - Encephalitis
Presentation Order of Tasks
* Significant at .05 level
** Significant at .01 level
SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION
Discussion of the results of this investigation is designed so
that the major findings relating to the two specific research questions
(linguistic presentation methods and possible relationships between
specific linguistic scores and the functional communicative effectiveÂ¬
ness of AMESLAN) are presented first. The influence of demographic
factors is later introduced. Finally, suggestions for language interÂ¬
vention and implications for future research are presented.
The linguistic performance of the deaf as a result of two presentaÂ¬
tion methods was the initial research question. The primary objective
was to determine if written linguistic tasks adequately reflect the
deaf's linguistic knowledge or is their poor performance a reflection
of their difficulty with the medium of presentation rather than with
the material itself?
Graphic and Manual BTT
A paired difference ^-statistic revealed a significant difference
(p^ .05) in linguistic performance dependent on mode of presentation
with the average scores for the graphic method (18.93) significantly
higher than that for the manual method (15.93). It can therefore be
inferred that for investigations of this type assessments of the compreÂ¬
hension of graphically presented materials provide valid, indeed superior,
indications of linguistic competency of traditional English by the deaf.
Among the interesting and plausible hypotheses for the above reÂ¬
sults are error hierarchy, nature of the test format, and specific types
of errors. These topics are discussed in the following section.
Hierarchy of Errors
An analysis of errors for this study revealed a hierarchy of item
difficulty similar to that of Cooper's (1967) investigation (see ChapÂ¬
ter II, Morphological Research). In this investigation, as in Cooper's
(1967), plural nouns and past tense were also found to be the easiest
items and the derivational items the most deviant. The four items which
were missed by more than half of Larson et al.'s (1976) adult models
(derived words: diminutive, compound, ajentive, adjective) were also
incorrect for the vast majority of the FSDB students.
Table 7 shows the morphological hierarchy according to percentages
correct for both the graphic and manual presentations. Table 8 illusÂ¬
trates the percentages correct for each morphological structure accord-
int to the graphic and manual procedures.
Plurals and past tense were apparently the easiest items. GenerÂ¬
ally both graphic and manual presentations followed the same hierarchy
but with the manual scores far more depressed than the graphic scores.
With performance on derived words so poor for both presentations it
would be difficult to make any comparisons between the two groups of
scores. However, the manual presentation did aid some students in the
Hierarchy According to Percentages Correct
for Graphic BTT and Manual BTT
GRAPHIC BTT %
MANUAL BTT l
Ad j ective
Percentages Correct for Morphological Structures
for Graphic BIT and Manual BTT
, 002 â–
formation of the compound word (.002 correct) as compared with the graphic
score (0 correct) for the same structure and for plural possession (.15
correct as opposed to .01 correct).
Nature of the Test Format
This section is a comparison between the properties inherent in
the graphic and manual test presentations which could account for the
superior graphic performances.
Age of finger spelling acquisition. Although finger spelling is
employed in classroom instruction at FSDB, the age of finger spelling
acquisition by the subjects varied from early infancy to age 15. The
importance of early exposure to finger spelling and its beneficial imÂ¬
pact on later communication and educational achievement has been well
documented (Hoemann, 1974; Hoemann, Andrews, Florian, Hoemann & Jensema,
1976; Quigley, 1969).
Not only finger spelling, but any systematic, intensive language
exposure at the preschool level has been found beneficial for later
scholastic achievement (Sarachan-Deily & Love, 1974).
Nature of finger spelling. Transient and ephemeral qualities are
characteristic of finger spelling and signed English (Fisher & Husa,
1973). These variables demand much visual alertness and concentration.
It was perceived by the experimenter in this study that in the majority
of cases, if the crucial nonsense stimuli or question was not seen by
the subject, his manual response was incorrect. This was observed for
test items where the subject consistently responded correctly for a
particular structure. Therefore there was little doubt that the student
lacked knowledge for the test item.
This ephemeral quality also applies to the production of finger
spelling. Some letters (i.e., z, 1) have several distinctive characÂ¬
teristics which render them easy to make and to discern. Other letters
and symbols have nearly identical features (i.e., e, s) or very fleeting
markers (i.e., possession) which often render them very difficult to
read. Concentration is demanded not only of the reader but also of the
finger speller to make clear distinctions for his responses. If the
finger speller is careless, it is very easy for the reader to mistake
an "s" for an "e" or to mark a possessive item as plural when the signer
Time limitations. The difficulties mentioned above for finger
spelling and signed English were not present in the graphic test. No
time limit was imposed on this task where the student had the nonsense
stimuli immediately before him. In contrast, the manual video tape reÂ¬
cording had a specific time limit for each response.
Monitor viewing. In order to insure that all subjects saw the
same presentation it was necessary to record the test on video tape.
There could be some differences between observing a live finger spellÂ¬
ing presentation and observing the same presentation on a large monitor.
From the features cited for test format it could be argued that
the manual presentation failed to accurately reflect a student's knowÂ¬
ledge of morphological rules when forced to depend solely on a fleeting
visual medium with the additional aids of lip reading skills and residual
Several distinct types of errors were observed for many students
on the graphic and manual presentations. These error types are presented
in the following section.
Erratic. For many items (as in comparative, possessive, and deÂ¬
rived words) it was apparent that the subjects were uncertain as to the
correct morphological inflections. The responses for graphic and manual
presentations for the same item were different, but in both presentations
responses were incorrect and often erratic. In many cases students
merely repeated the nonsense word or substituted a real word for a picÂ¬
ture of some real object which appeared on the stimulus card. In these
instances mode of presentation had no effect. The student was apparently
unaware of the required response and concept.
Knowledge of concept. In some cases the subjects indicated no
knowledge of the comparative and superlative constructions on the graphic
presentation. However, in the manual presentation there was an indicaÂ¬
tion of knowledge of these two concepts. For example, in these cases
the student finger spelled "more liggy" and "even more liggy" for the
comparative and superlative respectively. These responses are equivaÂ¬
lent as to how the concepts comparative and superlative are signed.
Responses of this nature were scored as incorrect as it was the correct
morphological inflection which was desired. However, examples of this
type are an indication that manual presentation can facilitate knowÂ¬
ledge or concept recall, albeit not in the traditional English form
where a graphic presentation would not do so.
Sporadic and/or confused responses. Performance on this morphoÂ¬
logical test was frequently sporadic. For example, past tense or plural
items would be correctly answered except for one or two. This was obÂ¬
served for both graphic and for finger spelled responses where the exÂ¬
aminer felt confident that the subject had observed the stimulus item.
Sporadic knowledge of general information by the deaf has been
observed by classroom teachers. Therefore, simply because mastery of
the superlative is indicated, knowledge of the comparative should not
There was also evidence of confusion for certain structures, as
in the possessive. Several subjects employed "nad's" for the singular
possessive, but no knowledge of plural possession was demonstrated.
Or the superlative adjective would be consistently employed for the
comparative and, depending on the individual subject, would or would
not be correctly utilized for the superlative item.
Another illustration of this confusion was that the subject would
correctly respond for some items and often respond incorrectly for
similar items of the same construction. These incorrect responses
were consistent and not mere haphazard answers.
Hypotheses. These inconsistencies could be interpreted in various
ways. The correct finger spelling of how the comparative and superlaÂ¬
tive are signed could be an example of the "language interference" hyÂ¬
pothesis. This is a phenomenon experienced by many of the deaf between
traditional English and some sort of signing system. It can be compared
to the language interference of a young child in a bilingual environment.
The sporadic and confused inconsistencies may be viewed as an
intermediate state that exists prior to the acquisition and consistent
usage of the correct structure. Or, considering the age of the subÂ¬
jects and the simple structures under scrutiny, the inconsistencies
could be attributed to a confused comprehension for a particular strucÂ¬
ture. Yet another hypothesis could utilize some of these errors as
evidence that the deaf were employing two strategies for the same strucÂ¬
Pressnell (1973) suggested that some differences found in the
sequential order of development for particular verb constructions
could be related to the teaching order in the classroom. Deviations
which coexist with the correct forms of syntactic structures might inÂ¬
dicate that some of the deaf have two or more parallel rules for the
same syntactic structures (Quigley, Smith, & Wilbur, 1974).
In summary the consistency, regularity, and simplicity characterisÂ¬
tic of hearing children's responses was lacking. Cooper (1967) also
found this true for his older deaf female subjects.
Correlations Among Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC Scores
The second area of research was concerned with the communicative
effectiveness of the deaf when they were allowed to utilize whatever
signalling system they preferredâ€”finger spelling, AMESLAN, signed
English, gesture, and speech. The specific research qeustion was to
determine the extent of the relationship between the linguistic BTT
scores and a judged level of FC proficiency when the students were
allowed to utilize their preferred method of communication.
Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC Scores
Correlation coefficients of the SAS revealed the Graphic BTT and
Manual BTT scores to be statistically significant at the .01 level.
The Graphic BTT and FC scores were also statistically significant at the
.01 level. The Manual BTT and FC scores lacked statistical significance
at the .05 level.
In this section the correlation coefficients of the above results
are reviewed. Possible relationships with reading and writing as well
as cognitive implications are presented.
Correlations with Reading and Writing
The fact that analysis revealed a high correlation between the
Manual and Graphic BTT is not too surprising. The only variable which
distinguished the two tests was manner of presentation.
Perhaps the high correlation between the Graphic BTT and the FC^
score could be explained by the fact that both tasks involved reading.
Cooper (1967) found that his morphological test scores were related to
reading achievement although a subsequent investigation indicated that
difficulties in reading test items did not depress test scores. The
reading level of the BTT was very lowâ€”about the level of the first
grade. And from an analysis of error patterns it can be concluded that
errors resulted from lack of linguistic knowledge rather than from difÂ¬
ficulty with the medium.
The paragraph which the subjects read was near the fourth grade
level, but, as the purpose of the investigation was communicative ability,
the investigator, when necessary, signed the story and helped the subÂ¬
jects with unfamiliar words. It is always difficult to change from one
medium (the graphic paragraph) and measure communication in another
medium (AMESLAN). The question might be posed that it would have been
more suitable for the paragraph story to be signed to the subject and
thus possibly avoid confusion transference from one medium to another.
However, it must be remembered that because of the transient nature of
signing, another variable, memory, which the investigator had hoped to
minimize as much as possible, would have become even more important.
Support for this statement may be found in this study where students
did not respond to BTT items where they would have known the answer beÂ¬
cause they missed the stimulus word.
The judges rated the communication effectiveness of most of the
students as slightly below average with the mean score of 2.71. From
previous investigations of the written compositions by the deaf (Quigley,
Smith, & Wilbur, 1974; Russell, Quigley, & Power, 1976), it would be
valid to suppose that if the subjects were instructed to write what they
remembered from the paragraph, the communication effectiveness as judged
by traditional linguistic standards might be evaluated as very far below
average. With one exception the morphological scores of this investigaÂ¬
tion were lower than those obtained by Cooper's (1967) 9 year old hearÂ¬
ing subjects. However, the judges' ratings of FC^ would imply that the
deaf, when allowed to utilize and be evaluated on their own communication
system, can adequately communicate ideas and concepts based on their
scored performance for conveying the main ideas of the Item Analysis of
Memory for Prose and Cognitive Implications
An important variable in obtaining a measurement of FC is memory.
Several studies have been conducted on memory for prose but none have
been attempted with the deaf. Inferences on prose memory are made from
data which utilize short memory unitsâ€”letters, designs, sentences. All
items in the paragraph story were assigned hierarchical categories acÂ¬
cording to a theory of Kintsch (1977) (see Section 2, Chapter II).
The selected variables tended to support some of Kintsch's (1977)
findings on preliminary studies with hearing subjects. Superordinates
(main topics) with a mean score of 1.70 (utilizing a 3 point rating
system) were defined best. Subordinates (details) with a mean score
of 1.65 were recalled less often. Kintsch noted that the thematic idea
was the best recalled item in the hierarchy. This was also valid for
the subjects in this study who had a mean score of 2.48 for Theme. The
fact that Theme was recalled so well by the majority of students may
be the reason it lacked statistical significance in the model used to
predict Quality Score.
There is meager information available on prose recall. However,
it appears that for the FC task of this study the ability of the deaf
to remember prose was similar to that of hearing subjects.
The demographic data included in this study were reading level,
etiology, age of learning finger spelling, dB loss in the better ear,
age of the subject, first language in the home, persons at home who
can finger spell and/or sign, other impaired family members, number of
years at FSDB, IQ level, race, and sex. The investigator wished to
determine which of the above variables significantly contributed to
performance on the Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, and FC^ tasks.
Reading level was the only variable significant for all three
models (.01). It was the only significant factor for the Graphic BTT
model. For the Manual BTT the statistically significant variables were
etiology-heredity (.01), age of the subject (.01), and age of learning
finger spelling (.05). Although many variables were included in the FC
model, the only statistically significant ones were dB loss (.05) and
All variables that were included in this study are dealt with in
this section. The most significant variables for the three investigaÂ¬
tive tasks are presented first.
This was the most significant variable as it contributed to all
three task measures at the .01 level. This high correlation of reading
level and linguistic performance would be in agreement with the data of
the previous investigations (Anderson, 1974; Anken & Holmes, 1977;
Quigley, Wilbur, & Montanelli, 1974; Russell, Quigley, & Power, 1976;
Scholes et al., in press; Scholes et al. , 1976; Stokoe, 1975; Wilbur
et al., 1975; Wilcox & Tobin, 1974).
This is not surprising since reading level would involve compreÂ¬
hension of written material; therefore, for these subjects the greater
the linguistic sophistication the higher the Graphic BTT and FC rating.
Both of these tasks required some reading ability. The fact that readÂ¬
ing level was also significant for the Manual BTT could be attributed
to the fact that the manners of presentation (finger spelling and signed
English) are both visual overlays on traditional English and the manual
responses were scored as to the correct English morphemic response.
The high significance of reading level on all three tasks could also be
attributed to the factor of linguistic sophistication not only for tradiÂ¬
tional English but also in the ability to successfully communicate in
For this variable seven levels were analyzed in a dichotomous-
comparison format. The seven levels were unknown, rubella, birth
trauma, heredity, meningitis, Rh factor, and encephalitis.
Heredity, significant at the .01 level, was one of the four staÂ¬
tistically significant variables for the Manual BTT model. Researchers
have found that deaf children of deaf parents usually have a higher
scholastic achievement level than deaf children of hearing parents.
This factor has been attributed to the fact that the deaf children are
immediately given some form of communication system (Bellugi & Fischer,
1972; Cutting & Kavanagh, 1975; Kannapell, 1974; Stokoe, 1975; Vernon &
There were only two deaf students of deaf parents included in
this study. Two other subjects had an etiology diagnosed as heredity,
but these students had deaf siblings not deaf parents.
Encephalitis was significant on the FC rating at the .05 level.
However, there was only one subject with this specific etiology and for
lack of similar findings in other investigations this significance level
and particular etiology should be regarded with some reservations.
Heredity was also included in the FC model but lacked statistical sigÂ¬
There are a number of possible reasons why other etiologies are
not included in the models or do not appear as significant (as previous
research would suggest). There were only 30 subjects in this study.
The dichotomous-comparison of each type of etiology against all of the
other etiologies may have caused a levelling effect. Or perhaps there
was somewhat of an overlap with one level of etiology and other variÂ¬
ables in the study. For example, the age of learning finger spelling
might be associated with heredity as well as other variables such as the
number of hearing impaired in the home and/or the frequency of manual
communication. Finally, one of the criteria of the study was that there
be no handicap other than deafness. Therefore, subjects with other
handicaps of etiologies known for associated anomalies, as in rubella,
which might affect performance were automatically eliminated from this
Age of Learning Finger Spelling
This variable was statistically significant in the Manual BTT
model at the .05 level. This result supports other researchers who
have reported that the effectivness of finger spelling is related to
the age at which it is introduced (Hoemann, 1974; Quigley, 1969). The
age range for these subjects was birth to age 15 with a mean of 6.9.
The dB loss in the better ear was not included in the models for
Graphic and Manual BTT scores. Previous researchers and classroom
teachers have discovered that this variable has no influence on the
linguistic and scholastic performance of deaf and hard-of-hearing stuÂ¬
dents (Anderson, 1974; Scholes et al., in press).
Surprisingly, dB loss was a statistically significant factor in
the FC model at the .05 level. To this investigator's knowledge, dB
loss has not been included as a variable in AMESLAN communication studies.
The subjects in this study with high FC ratings [3.00 (average) to
5.00 (very good)] had (a) a variety of etiologies, (b) a wide range
of dB loss, and (c) a variety of communication preference styles (signs,
finger spelling, gestures accompanied with or without speech). All of
the subjects had a reading level of 3.2 or higher; however, four subÂ¬
jects with an FC rating lower than 3.00 also had reading scores higher
than 3.2 This is an intriguing finding which can easily be further
investigated in future AMESLAN communication studies.
Age of the Subjects
This variable was statistically significant (.01) for the Manual
BTT model. Considering the narrow age range and median age of the subÂ¬
jects (16 - 18 and 17.13, respectively), this was a rather surprising
finding. It would be expected, as in Cooper's (1967) subjects of ages
9 - 19, that age would be important if only for the reason that the
deaf are grossly delayed in the acquisition of some rather elementary
structures. However, with the older subjects in this study some hyÂ¬
pothesis other than mere delay should be entertained for the inferior
performance by these deaf students. Nevertheless, the fact that age
was significant for these students for this particular task is puzzling.
It may be that a difference of two years could affect the subject's
ability to concentrate over an extended period of time on the video
tape presentation. Or it may be that there is a peak in performance
for the coordination of motor, visual, and linguistic skills that does
not develop or Is still in the process of developing daring this age
First Language in the Home
There were three levels for this variable. The majority of the
students (27) reported English as the first language in the home, 2
students reported sign, and 1 student reported a combination of the
above communication systems.
Persons at Home Who Can Finger Spell and/or Sign
There were three levels for the above variable. Some manual comÂ¬
munication was reported by 13 students, 10 students reported no manual
communication, and 7 students reported that manual communication was
used frequently at home.
Other Hearing Impaired Family Members
Seven students reported other family members (siblings and parents)
who were also hearing impaired.
These last three variables failed to be of any significance for
the Graphic BTT, Manual BTT, or FC measures. This lack of significance
could be caused by the dichotomous-comparison format of three levels
for the variables first language in the home and persons at home who
can finger spell or sign. However, the variable of other hearing imÂ¬
paired family members, which might have had some overlap with the
variable etiology-heredity, was analyzed on a yes/no format. So apÂ¬
parently the analysis cannot definitely be assumed to cause a lack of
significance for these variables. It is perhaps more likely that their
lack of significance for home environment and family members may be a
result of the subjects themselves. These were older students in the
institutionalized environment of FSDB where everyone finger spelled
and signed. Therefore the school and peer group for these subjects
could counteract the effect of the family. These variables might very
well be significant if they were included in a similar study with much
younger subjects in a different environment.
Number of Years of Attendance at FSDB
This variable was statistically insignificant for all three models.
The actual range in years of attendance was 1-12 with a mean of 6.6.
Therefore this factor alone would suggest that many of the students
brought with them an educational background different from that of FSDB.
The earliest level of acceptance at FSDB is around the age of 4
or 5 with perhaps no formal language intervention before this period.
The fact that this variable was completely excluded from the Manual BTT
model could be a possible argument for its lack of statistical signifiÂ¬
cance relative to performance on the tasks of this investigation. With
younger children educated exclusively at FSDB this variable could be
significant on the Manual and Graphic BTT.
IQ was measured on the performance scale of the WISC and was inÂ¬
significant for all three models. As found by previous researchers
there was no significance between IQ and performance on linguistic
tasks by the deaf.
Race and Sex
There were 26 white and 4 black subjects of whom 21 were male and
9 were female. Race and sex were not even included for any of the task
models. There is no study to this investigator's knowledge where race
and the linguistic ability of the deaf have been found to be correlated.
The performance of the female subjects of this study, unlike that
of Cooper's (1967) older deaf females, could not be distinguished from
the males' performance. This result could be attributed to a number of
variables including the smaller number and narrower age range for female
subjects in this study.
Implications for Further Research
1. It has been documented that deaf children of deaf parents have
greater scholastic achievement than their deaf peers of hearing parents;
however, this study and other research (Kannapell, 1974) have indicated
that this initial advantage might not continue for slightly more soÂ¬
phisticated syntactic and morphological structures. There may be a point
where ability for more advanced linguistic items no longer gives the
deaf child of deaf parents an advantage for performance on traditional
Therefore it would be of interest to give the Graphic and Manual
BTT to younger age groups so that a possible point may be established
where these subjects perform at essentially the same level as the older
subjects in this study.
2. The Grammatic Closure subtest of the ITPA, which has been
found to correlate highly with the BTT, uses real rather than nonsense
words and therefore most children perform better on this subtest than
on a Berko-type test.
Since the deaf are shown to have difficulty with many abstract
formsâ€”as in nonsense wordsâ€”it would be of interest to see the results
(especially on derived words) if the deaf were given the BTT and also
the ITPA subtest.
3. More studies of AMESLAN communication of previously read short
prose selections would help better define and isolate those factors
which may be rated as important in good AMESLAN communication.
4. An extension of the above study would be a comparison and
rating of a written prose passage from memory. This would help indicate
if there was a correlation between writing facility in traditional
English and FC facility in AMESLAN.
5. Cognitive processing by the deaf has been studied for Piagetian-
type tasks, clusterings of nouns, and recall situations. A study of the
type cited in item number 3 would obtain cognitive information about
the deaf's memory for prose. Models other than the one utilized in this
study could be employed and results compared with those found for the
6. In all AMESLAN communication tasks it would be easy and perhaps
important to note the subject's dB loss in the better ear. If enough
information were gathered it would be possible to see if there is any
valid correlation of this variable and AMESLAN communication as was
found in this study.
Suggestions for Language Intervention
A possible indication for classroom instruction would be the siÂ¬
multaneous presentation of oral, signed English, and graphic stimuli.
Naturally the simultaneous graphic presentation would require an elecÂ¬
tronic device capable of representing words and sentences to the class.
Such an entirely total approach would hopefully
1. help eliminate ambiguities and lost clues due to the fleeting
nature of finger spelling and signed English
2. help eliminate any crossover interferences of manual presentaÂ¬
tions based on English syntax and the AMESLAN communication system
3. utilize the visual medium for maximum concept formation.
Periodic reassessment for specific morphological and syntactical
structures would hopefully
1. precisely define deviant areas
2. give information as to types of errors and thus present eviÂ¬
dence and insight for possible modification of instructional format.
An emphasis on the positive aspects of bilingual language might
be extremely helpful. For example, the students could be capable of
performing the same task under two separate conditionsâ€”AMESLAN and
signed English. This would, in effect, make the student bilingual and
more aware of the differences between written English and AMESLAN.
There were 30 subjects of whom there were 21 males and 9 females.
Of the males 19 were white and 2 were black. There were 7 white and 2
62 - 118
birth = 19
prelingual = 11
95 - 133
1.7 - 9.9
Language in the Home
English = 27
Signs and finger spelling = 2
English, signs, and finger spelling = 1
16 - 18
Finger Spelling Test
93% - 100% correct
FINGER SPELLING TEST, STUDENT INSTRUCTIONS
PROTOCOL INSTRUCTIONS, AND SCORING SYSTEM
FINGER SPELLING TEST
Date of Birth
FINGER SPELLING TEST - continued
I will show you some pictures, and you will finger spell the name.
Some of these pictures are very funny. If you do not know the name,
I will show you the written name, and you will finger spell this name
The subject is given his instructions in both written and signed
English form. Use item no. 1 as a test item. Also show the written
word box so that he may know what to expect when he is unable to corÂ¬
rectly name the picture. (For the nonsense pictures he must always be
shown the name.) Do not penalize if the subject gives an inappropriate
response as in "boy" for the desired word "standing." You may ask "What
is he doing?" or other questions for the particular picture. However,
do not lose too much time with this procedure as the goal of the test
is assessment of finger spelling ability. Show the student the written
word, allow for an appropriate time for it to be read, and, if necessary,
ask again for the desired finger spelled response.
Scoring is on a 5 point scale of proficiency with only numbers 5
and 4 as ultimately considered correct.
5 = fluent, smooth, correct flow of letters with no apparent difÂ¬
4 = labored, hesitant, yet correct flow of letters and/or selfÂ¬
3 = fluent, smooth flow with only 1 letter incorrect
2 = expressive difficulty and/or approximately one-half of the
letters inappropriately used
1 = only 1 letter of the test word used correctly
If any student scores below a 5 on any of the items 1 - 10, then
the test may be discontinued at that point, and he may no longer be conÂ¬
sidered as an appropriate subject for this study.
Passing criteria is a total test score of 75% or above.
TEST EXAMPLES, INSTRUCTIONS,
AND ANSWER SHEET
THIS IS A NAD.
WHO KNOWS HOW TO TROM?
HE IS TROMMING.
HE DID THE SAME THING YESTERDAY.
WHAT DID HE DO YESTERDAY?
Berry, p. 6
THIS IS A TASS.
WHO KNOWS HOW TO GIZZLE?
HE IS GIZZLING.
HE DOES IT EVERYDAY.
EVERYDAY HE â€¢
Berry, p. 22
The teacher says to the child: "I want to show you some funny
pictures. I will tell you something about each picture, and then I want
you to help me by finishing the last sentence. This is the way we play
the game" (Berry, p. 3). (Demonstrate with Plates I and II.)
Hr. of testing
VI ÃœQ L2J
VI (1) (2)
XXI m (2) XXI (1) (2)
ANSWER SHEET - continued
SIGNS REVIEWED AND
I will show you a film. Many of the words and pictures are funny.
You will watch the TV and afterwards finger spell the answer to me.
Some pictures will have only one answer. Other pictures will have two
answers. Do not worry if you cannot remember all of the letters. Just
try to give an answer for all of the pictures, and remember to be careÂ¬
ful about your finger spelling.
I will give you something to read. Read it. Take your time.
Afterwards I will take the paragraph away. You will tell me about what
you read. You can speak, you can finger spell, you can sign. You can
tell me about the story in any way you want.
Airplane pilots have many important jobs. They fly passengers,
freight, and mail from one city to another. Sometimes they make dangerÂ¬
ous rescues in land and sea accidents, and drop food where people or
herds are starving. They bring strange animals from dense jungles to
our zoos. They also serve as traffic police and spot speeding cars
(Gray, p. 4)
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SECOND VIEWING,
AND FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION EVALUATION SHEET
You will see a set of 30 stories told by 30 different students.
The students will retell a story which they have previously read. You
have a copy of this story in front of you. After each story you will
have about a minute to fill in the Evaluation Sheet before you. You
have 30 numbered sheets. The number on the top of the sheet should corÂ¬
respond to the number that appears on the screen with the student. After
a break you will see the film a second time.
There are three parts for the evaluation:
Part A: Quality of Conveyance of the General Concept
Given that you already know what the story was about, how well do
you think the overall general concept and basic idea of the paraÂ¬
graph was displayed?
1 = very poor
2 = poor
3 = average
4 = good
5 = very good
Part B: Item Analysis
Read the 17 items. If the entire fact was present, check box
no. 3. If the entire fact vÃas not presented, check box no. 2
after each item. If the fact was not presented, check box no. 1
after each item.
INSTRUCTIONS - continued
Part C: Finger Spelling and Sign Ratios
Circle the number which most aptly describes the student's particu
lar style of communicating.
1 = most finger spelling
2 = more finger spelling than signing
3 = equal amounts of finger spelling and signing
4 = more signing than finger spelling
5 = mostly signing
Please circle the number which best describes your own particular knowÂ¬
ledge of the student.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SECOND VIEWING
You will now see the same stories again. You have your own EvaluaÂ¬
tion Sheets before you. If after seeing a story you wish to change a
score, mark the new score with a red pencil. Do not erase your previous
FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION EVALUATION SHEET
A. QUALITY OF CONVEYANCE FOR THE GENERAL CONCEPT
1 2 3 4 5
very poor poor average good very good
B. ITEM ANALYSIS
1. Airplane pilots have many jobs
3. between cities
4. of people
5. of freight
6. of mail ____ _____
8. at land __
9. at sea
10. dropping food
11. to hungry people
12. to hungry animals _____
13. bringing animals to zoos
14. from the jungles
15. act as traffic police _____ ___
16. spot speeding cars
3 = entire fact
2 = fact parÂ¬
1 = fact omitted
on the highway
FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION EVALUATION SHEET - continued
C. FINGER SPELLING AND SIGNING RATIOS
1 = mostly finger spelling
2 = more finger spelling than signing
3 = nearly equal amounts of finger spelling than signing
4 = more signing than spelling
5 = mostly signing
How well do you know this student?
1 2 3 4 5
not at all
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Shannon Maureen Brumfield was born in New Orleans, Louisiana,
where she lived with her parents and younger brother and sisterâ€”Fred
and Mary Kathleen (Kaki). She graduated from Metairie Park Country Day
Ms. Brumfield attended Universite Laval, Quebec, Universidad
Ibero-Americana, Mexico City, D.F., Tulane University, New Orleans,
and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Pathology from
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.
After obtaining her Master of Arts degree in Speech Pathology
from Temple University, Philadelphia, she worked for a year for the
Upper Darby School District, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. She returned
to New Orleans where, in addition to her administrative duties as rank
teacher, she worked with students in a school for the deaf. She had
always been interested in language disorders, and it was experience in
this environment that made her acutely aware of the unique difficulties
of the deaf. She was also an instructor at Our Lady of Holy Cross ColÂ¬
lege where she taught courses in anatomy and physiology of the speech
and hearing mechanism and the psychology of deafness.
In September, 1974, she began her doctoral program at the UniÂ¬
versity of Florida where her area of major interest in speech pathology
was language disorders in deaf and aphasic populations. This was comÂ¬
plemented by a split minor in linguistics and psychology.
Ms. Brumfield has received the Certificate of Clinical Competence
in Speech Pathology from the American Speech and Hearing Association,
License in Speech Pathology from the State of Louisiana, and is certified
by the Council on Education of the Deaf. She also holds teaching certiÂ¬
ficates for the states of Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
I certify that I
conforms to acceptable
adequate, in scope and
Doctor of Philosophy.
I certify that I
conforms to acceptable
adequate, in scope and
Doctor of Philosophy.
I certify that I
conforms to acceptable
adequate, in scope and
Doctor of Philosophy.
1 certify that I
conforms to acceptable
adequate, in scope and
Doctor of Philosophy.
have read this study and that in my opinion it
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
Edvard C. Hutchinson, Chairman
Associate Professor of Speech
have read this study and that in my opinion it
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
Robert J. Scholes, Cochairman
Professor of Speech
have read this study and that in my opinion it
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully'
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
Assistant Professor of Psychology
have read this study and that in my opinion it
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
quality', as a dissertation for the degree of
Thomas B. Abbott
Professor of Speech
I certify that 1 have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
'Joseph*. Sever, Jr.
Assistant Professor Speech
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the DepartÂ¬
ment of Speech in the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate
Council, and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Dean, Graduate School
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08554 1281